It’s been nearly 15 years since Hall of Fame point guard Gary Payton played his final NBA game. But after years away from the game of basketball outside of some TV work, he’s ready to return to the game.
In an interview with Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated, Payton said he has agreed to become the head basketball coach at Lincoln University. The Oakland-based school has an enrollment of less than 600 but is situated near Payton’s hometown.
Payton explained that Lincoln University is just starting up its basketball program and he wants to help establish it from the ground floor. To that end, he plans to schedule games against Division I opponents in hopes of making it a Division I school in the future.
“It’s a startup program and a private independent school where I can establish what I want to establish,” Payton said. “I don’t have to go behind anybody to try to make a program become something or keep it going. I can start it off with my own program with what I want to happen. And the reason I took it is because it’s in Oakland, California.”
Former NBA great Gary Payton is returning to basketball.
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) June 4, 2021
One other motivation Gary Payton has is to reinvigorate the sports scene in Oakland. He highlighted the recent departures of the Raiders and Golden State Warriors, plus the potential departure of the Oakland Athletics as reasons to try and build a program at Lincoln.
“Everybody knows we losing all kinds of sports here,” Payton 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.”
Gary Payton is one of the greatest guards in NBA history. He made nine All-Stars in 14 seasons with the Seattle SuperSonics and won an NBA title with the Miami Heat. Payton won two Olympic gold medals with Team USA and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2013.
Perhaps his job at Lincoln University could be a springboard to bigger jobs too.