Sports are full of famous father-son duos who made history together, but not every familial pair found as much success through the years at the collegiate and professional level as Oregon State’s own Gary Payton Sr. and Gary Payton II.
The two players were leaders in some of the most successful teams in the history of the Oregon State Men’s Basketball program. And with the 2020 season now underway, this year’s team will hope to find a similar level of success that the Payton duo led the program to during their respective seasons.
Gary Payton Sr., who played for Oregon State from 1986 to 1990, went on to have a career in the NBA that earned him a spot in the Hall of Fame. Payton Sr. is from Oakland, Cal., but began his historic career with the Beavers under coach Ralph Miller. In his freshman season, Payton Sr. would go on to win PAC-10 Rookie of the Year and conference Defensive Player of the Year in a year which would see Oregon State make the NIT.
Payton Sr’s list of accolades would continue to grow past his first college season. He made the All PAC-10 team for the next three years, culminating with winning PAC-10 Player of the Year honors and being a consensus NCAA All-American in his final season in 1989-90.
In that PAC-10 Player of the Year season, Payton Sr. averaged over 25 points per game to go along with over eight assists and three steals. Oregon State made the NCAA tournament in all of his last three years, one of two times in Beavers’ history that the program made the tournament three seasons in a row.
Payton Sr. now has his name all over Oregon State and PAC-12 leaderboards. He is still the conference’s career assists leader, second in the PAC-12 in career steals, and is still in the top 10 for points scored through his four-year career.
For Oregon State, Payton Sr. remains the career leader in minutes played, field goals, assists and steals. And, up until last season, he was the leader in points scored, eventually being overtaken by forward Tres Tinkle in his senior season.
With a record-breaking effort, Payton Sr. was inducted into the Oregon State Sports Hall of Fame and had his number, 20, retired by the university.
Payton Sr. stayed in the Pacific Northwest after leaving Oregon State, as he was drafted second overall in the NBA Draft by the Seattle Supersonics. He played in the NBA for 18 seasons, 13 of which came with the Supersonics. During that time, he continued to make records, just as he did with the Beavers.
Payton Sr. shares the record for most NBA All-Defensive First-Team nods with Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan, and Kevin Garnett. Each player at the top of the list has nine, and Payton Sr. is the only point guard of the bunch. Additionally, he is also the only point guard to have won a Defensive Player of the Year Award, having won it in the 1995 season.
The point guard’s All-Defensive team success came with the numbers to back it up, as the Oregon State product remains fourth on the NBA’s all-time steals list. Payton was widely considered a pest on defense and one of Michael Jordan’s greatest foes, and for all of these defensive achievements, Payton Sr. gained the nickname of “The Glove.”
Payton Sr. shined beyond the defensive side of the game though, also being an All-Star and part of All-NBA teams nine times as well. In the all-time leaderboards, Payton ranks in the top 10 for assists and top 35 in points, demonstrating his offensive skill as well. He also won an NBA championship with the Miami Heat in 2006 and two Olympic Gold Medals in 1996 and 2000.
Gary Payton II thus had big footsteps to follow when he decided to play basketball like his father. And at first, the road to success was not quite as clear as it was for Payton Sr. Payton II had no Division 1 offers out of high school and played his first two years of college basketball at Salt Lake Community College in Utah. After two seasons at the junior college level though, he decided to follow in his father’s footsteps and transferred to Oregon State.
Payton II, sometimes referred to as “The Mitten” after his father’s nickname, had an immediate impact at Oregon State. In his first year in Corvallis, he earned All PAC-12 First-Team honors and the PAC-12 Defensive Player of the Year award, just like his father did in his first year as a Beaver.
The parallels did not end there, however. During a game against the Grambling State Tigers in 2014, Payton II put up a stat line of 10 points, 12 rebounds, and 12 assists; a triple-double. This was the second triple-double in the history of Oregon State Men’s Basketball. The other? Payton Sr. against the Portland Pilots in 1988 where he put up 20 points, 14 rebounds, and 11 assists.
The next season, Payton II continued his strong play at Oregon State. He once again earned a spot on the All PAC-12 First-Team and was the PAC-12 Defensive Player of the Year. The guard would end the year leading the team in points, assists, and rebounds, helping lead the Beavers to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since Payton Sr. was playing for Oregon State, 25 years prior.
Despite his success in college, Payton II went undrafted in the NBA draft after graduating in 2016. He still managed to get a shot in the NBA through the G-League, and has bounced between there and the NBA ever since. Most recently, the guard played for the Washington Wizards in 2020, starting in 17 games.
During their days in college, the Payton’s combined for four NCAA Tournament appearances, five All PAC-12 First Team appearances and three PAC-12 Defensive Player of the Year Awards while at Oregon State.
This season, the Beavers are looking to make the NCAA Tournament for the first time since Payton II’s last year in Corvallis. The team is coached by Wayne Tinkle, whose son Tres graduated last year having overtaken Payton Sr. in the career point’s list, and is led by senior guard Ethan Thompson, whose dad Stephen Thompson Sr. is as an assistant coach for the Beavers, and whose brother Stephen Thompson Jr. played for Oregon State from 2015 to 2019.