Celtics Sign Guard Gary Payton
Payton, who was waived by the Atlanta Hawks March 1, 2005, has appeared in 54 games for the Celtics this season, all starts, averaging 12.1 points, 6.1 assists and 1.2 steals in 32.8 minutes per game. The nine-time All-Star was traded to Atlanta, along with Tom Gugliotta, Michael Stewart and a future first round draft choice, in exchange for Antoine Walker on February 24, 2005.
Nicknamed "The Glove" for his stifling defense, Payton was elected to the NBA All-Defensive First Team eight consecutive seasons (1994-2001) and was named Defensive Player of the Year in 1996, becoming the first guard to win the award since Michael Jordan in 1987-88. He currently ranks tied for 3rd (Maurice Cheeks) on the NBA’s all-time list in steals (2,310), 6th in assists (8,367) and 27th in points (20,611). This season Payton became just the 29th player in NBA history and the 4th Celtic to accumulate his 20,000th career point, becoming the first player in NBA history to mass 20,000 career points, 8,000 assists and 1,000 steals.
Known for his tenacious play and infectious, competitive attitude, Payton has twice won Olympic Gold as a member of the 1996 and 2000 U.S. Men's Olympic Teams. In addition, the 6-4, 180-pound guard was named to the All-NBA First-Team in 1998 and 2000, the All-NBA Second Team in 1995, 1996, 1997 and 1999, and All-NBA Third Team in 2001.
Selected by the Seattle SuperSonics in the first round (second overall) of the 1990 NBA Draft, Payton’s 13-year career with Seattle was highlighted by selections to the NBA All-Star Team seven straight seasons (1994-98, 2000-01) and was voted as a starter in the 1997 and 1998 games.