The Glove is returning to basketball in a big way.
Fourteen years after retiring from the NBA, former Sonics star Gary Payton signed a multiyear deal with Lincoln University in Oakland, California to become the school’s first men’s basketball coach.
“This is a dream come true for me to build a program with my stamp on it from the start,” the 52-year-old Payton said in a statement. “We are starting a tradition of high standards that can last lifetimes.”
Lincoln University, a four-year private college established 110 years ago, is starting an athletic program with football and men’s and women’s basketball slated to begin in 2021.
Payton said he hopes to fill the upcoming schedule with Division I opponents and plans to primarily recruit in the Bay Area, Seattle and Los Angeles.
“Lincoln University has made a commitment to building a world-class athletic department and hiring Gary Payton is an example of our strong effort toward this growth,” said Dr. Mikhail Brodsky, President of Lincoln University.
It will be Payton’s first foray into college coaching. He’s been a head coach in the Big3 basketball league and has expressed a desire to coach in the NBA.
“I would love to get in with a team as an assistant, but like everything, it has to be the right fit and the right time,” Payton told The Times last October. “We’ll see. I’m looking into getting into coaching. But it has to be the right situation.”
Payton, an Oakland native who starred at Skyline High, told The Undefeated that he wants to give back to his hometown.
“Everybody knows we losing all kinds of sports here,” he said. “We lost the (Las Vegas) Raiders, the (Oakland) A’s want to leave because we’re not giving them an arena. The (Golden State) Warriors have left. So, we need something to spunk these people, these fans, back up. And especially a guy like myself coming from Oakland, California, and what I’ve done in my career, I think a lot of people would be really, really excited about it.”
Payton, the former Oregon State star who was taken No. 2 overall in the 1990 NBA draft by the Sonics, is considered one of the greatest defenders in league history.
The brash, trash-talking point guard garnered fame and the nickname ‘The Glove’ during 12½ seasons (1990-2003) in Seattle, which included a trip to the 1996 NBA Finals.
During his tenure with the Sonics, Payton was a nine-time All-Star, nine-time All-NBA selection, nine-time All-Defensive Team selection and the 1995-96 Defensive Player of the Year.
Payton finished his 17-year Hall of Fame career with brief stints with the Milwaukee Bucks (2003), Los Angeles Lakers (2003-04), Boston Celtics (2004-05) and Miami Heat (2005-07), where he won an NBA championship in 2006.
He averaged 16.3 points, 6.7 assists, 3.9 rebounds and 1.8 steals in 1,335 regular-season games. Payton also ranks fourth on the NBA’s career steals list with 2,445 and 10th in career assists with 8,966.
“I am fired up about this opportunity to coach at the college level and make a major impact on the basketball scene in my hometown of Oakland,” Payton said.