Getty Images Gary Payton

Seattle doesn't have the SuperSonics anymore, but it will always have Gary Payton. "The Glove" led the Sonics to an NBA Finals appearance and made nine All-Star teams while in Seattle. If the NBA does make a return to Seattle, Payton could be part of the process as the Oakland native is volunteering his services to the Emerald City. And he wouldn't mind teaming with Ray Allen, who was traded from Milwaukee to Seattle for Payton in 2003.

ThePostGame: You're obviously very vocal about supporting an NBA team back to Seattle. Is there any progress in that, from your end? I know there is going to be an arena, potentially with an NHL team coming up.
PAYTON: Yes, I have, with my affiliation with Seattle and things and the people that are starting to get this arena afloat, that's what we need. We need an arena to come there, so that our commissioner, Adam Silver, can look at that and say, 'OK, they are moving towards trying getting a team there, so we have to really consider them.' You can't not have a great arena and want to play in the NBA. If we have an arena, we already have a football team, we have a baseball team, we're going to add hockey, we have a WNBA team. Our team should have never gotten taken from us in the first place. I think Adam Silver knows that and he wants a team back in the Northwest, and I think Seattle deserves it. That's a great basketball city, a lot of players, especially KD said he wishes Seattle would have never left and he would have never left Seattle. Everybody knows that Seattle is a great city and they want to play there. It's going to come back. I think it's going to come back.

TPG: What can you do to help that?
PAYTON: I can be there and help promote it all. I'm trying to be a part of that. We have to promote it the right way. For me to do that, I have to be right there. I'm planning on moving back to Seattle in the next couple of years, hopefully by that time, there will be a basketball team and I can be a part of that organization and get it off the ground. Having myself be a focal point in an arena, being around the fans, just like what Dominique Wilkins does for the Atlanta Hawks.

TPG: Obviously you left because you were traded to the Milwaukee Bucks. When that trade happened, you for Ray Allen, what were you thinking about it? What did it mean for Seattle and what did it mean for Milwaukee?
PAYTON: What it meant for Seattle was the end of a great era. I was the last of all the guys from that 90s run when we were pretty good. Everybody was gone. I was the only person left there, and I really thought that I was going to finish my career there, but it didn't happen. I was really happy to go to Milwaukee because of George Karl. That's the coach who started me off, and now I got the chance to go play with him. Unfortunately, he didn't stay in Milwaukee, so I didn't want to stay in Milwaukee at the time. Milwaukee was very upset with me because I didn't stay. They thought they were going to get a couple years from me, but unfortunately, it didn’t happen.

TPG: What did you think about Ray coming back the other way? Did you know him well at the time and did you know how good he was going to be with Seattle?
I didn't know how good Ray was gonna be. Him and Glenn Robinson and he was playing with Michael Redd at the time, I didn't know how good he was gonna be. He was a young kid who could shoot the basketball and he came to Seattle and did a great job. Now he's got his first opportunity to go into the Hall of Fame this year. He had a great career, but I didn't really know how good he was. I started watching after, when he went to Boston and Miami, making big shots, making all those threes.

TPG: So there are no hard feelings between you and Ray Allen?
PAYTON: Ray didn't do any of that. Ray had nothing to do with that. I played with Ray on the 2000 Olympic team. It's not us. It was the people who were in charge. No, no hard feelings with Ray. I don't have hard feelings with anyone.

TPG: The Raiders are leaving Oakland now. I know you didn't grow up with the Raiders in Oakland, but how tough is it for that city, your home city, to lose that team?
PAYTON: That's going to be really tough for our city. I hate that our city is going through this process. We're going to lose the Warriors, we're going to lose the Raiders, we're trying to build a stadium for the Oakland A's. It just hurts our city because our city is known for crime. We're always in the top murder rate or whatever, we're No. 2 right now. We've been that way for a long time. For us to lose these sports teams, it just makes our city worse. And then, our city needs to put up more hotels or more things, so that we can have a chance of bringing a team back or hosting an All-Star team. We've got to change that and it's hard by losing our teams. We don't have a hockey team, we don't have a WNBA team, we don't have none of that. So all we got is a baseball team and we can't lose that. We can't have our city be forgotten about, and it's sad for my city to go through this.

TPG: What do you think people need to know about Oakland that they don't know?
PAYTON: We're more of a changed city, now. We're building up, a lot of good things are coming to our city. We're a great city. You can go and do a lot of things. We got San Francisco across the bay, we got Napa right there, we got San Jose right there. Our city is great. Try it. It's not like what you think and what you hear. You can go and have good food, we got Jack London Square and we got a lot of food and stuff by the pier and all that stuff. When people come go to our city, they say, 'We love Oakland.' People have got to come and experience my city before they judge it.

Payton spoke to ThePostGame on behalf of the NBA, as a spokesman for NBA All-Star voting. Payton was a nine-time All-Star himself.

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