All these years later, Gary Payton is still the loudest voice in the gym. 

Dressed in black from head to toe, the 53-year-old former Sonics great with the salt-and-pepper goatee exploded off the bench and barked instructions to his new team, the Lincoln Oaklanders. 

“What are we running?” Payton yelled with his head cocked to the side and arms spread wide. “Do as I say and run the call.” 

It was vintage GP, aka “The Glove,” aka “The Mouth that Roared,” who held a running dialogue that was sometimes mildly R-rated and mostly entertaining with everybody — his players, his assistants, the referees and a few of the smattering of fans at Royal Brougham Pavilion who came out to see the one-time fiery and bombastic NBA star making his transition to the collegiate sidelines. 

“I’m aggressive,” Payton said when asked to describe his coaching style. “I’m hella aggressive. I want to play defense, but these kids just don’t have the desire like we did. When I was 19 and 20 years old, I was running up and down the floor every day.  

“These kids are a new generation, and we got to get them that way. Once I get them to that, I think I’ll be OK. They’re trying to buy into it, but I’m not trying to put pressure on them and do all that. I’m just trying to get them along. It’s me trying to get them to a point where they’re happy where they’re at because if you would have seen this team when I first got them.” 


Admittedly, Payton was hoping to pull off a storybook upset and notch his first collegiate career win in Seattle, but Seattle Pacific University spoiled his homecoming and handed Lincoln a 76-65 exhibition defeat Saturday night for its third straight loss. 

Payton hates losing, but he understands there’s going to be early growing pains as he heads a men’s basketball team that’s playing its inaugural season at the tiny Oakland-based private school, which recently launched collegiate athletics for the first time in its 101-year history. 

“Three weeks ago, we just had tryouts to see who wants to be on the team and fill out a roster,” Payton said. “We’ll be OK. I don’t think I’ll lose all the time. We’re down three guys I left at home, but it had to be a discipline thing. I’ll be OK. We’ll be fine. I’ll just get these guys in a little better shape.” 

Lincoln, which played for the second straight night and logged three games in four days, looked winded early while falling behind 13-0 at the start against SPU, which was playing its exhibition opener. 

Julian Payton, Gary Payton’s son, got the Oaklanders on the board with a short jumper at the 15:30 mark. 

For most of the first half, Lincoln had difficulty keeping pace with SPU, which is picked to win the Great Northwest Athletic Conference and is led by preseason conference player Divant’e Moffitt. 


But Lincoln, which trailed 37-31 at halftime, didn’t go away easily. The Oaklanders erased a 14-point first-half deficit and tied it at 42-42 with 15:53 left. 

From there, the Falcons regained control with an 8-0 run. Lincoln pulled to within 56-52 with 8:22 remaining but never got any closer as SPU extended its lead to double digits in the final four minutes. 

Shaw Anderson led the Falcons with 24 points while Moffitt added 14. 

The Oaklanders received a team-high 18 from Julian Payton and Jordan McGlory chipped in 12. 

Both teams embodied their coach’s playing style. Seattle Pacific converted just 9 of 34 three-pointers, which caused coach Grant Leep a bit of consternation considering he was a three-point specialist while starring for the Washington Huskies. 

Meanwhile, Lincoln was 2 of 4 on three-pointers. 

Payton was pleased with the Oaklanders’ perimeter defense, but bristled at their 19 turnovers. 


When asked if he was happy, Payton emphatically said: “Yes. I hate losing, but I’m happy. I’m happy to be coaching and doing it for my city.” 

“I’m happy to be back in Seattle,” the Oakland native said. “This is home. This is my second home. There’s Oakland and Seattle. My kids knew it. That’s why we took games here, and that’s why these guys gave me games because this is my home.” 

Nearly an hour after the game, Payton stood on the Royal Brougham Pavilion floor signing autographs and taking pictures with fans. 

“That’s how it is now, but as we go on the road, they’re going to have to make themselves be relevant,” Payton said. “Start playing. Start being a superstar. Let everybody see so after the game they’ll want to be with them.  

“But we’re not worried about that right now. I’m not. Let’s get a win. Let’s start letting people talk about y’all. … The hype over me will get over. Once we keep playing and start winning, then a lot of fans will want to see them.”