OAKLAND, Calif. (CBS SF) — Oakland is the place that has made NBA Hall of Famer Gary Payton. The East Oakland native's latest way of giving back to the city that has given so much to him is taking charge of Lincoln University's newly formed basketball team.
Lincoln has started an athletic program for the first time in its 101-year history with men's and women's basketball as well as football. Payton is building the program from the ground up as its first ever head coach.
"The reason I took this job is for Oakland, California and the kids that we can show come out of Oakland," The nine-time All-Star recently told KPIX 5's Vern Glenn "I wouldn't have taken this job if it didn't mean a lot to me."
The Oaklanders have local connections to basketball legends from The Town. Jairren Lillard, the younger brother of Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard, is on the roster. Isaiah Attles, the grandson of Golden State Warriors Hall of Famer Al Attles is also suiting up.
Payton is hoping to mold the next star to come out of Oakland.
"I grew up here, I became a Hall Of Famer here," Payton said "now I want to give back and see if I can bring another Hall Of Famer in here from me coaching."
Lincoln, which has around 500 students, is located downtown, steps away from Frank Ogawa Plaza on 15th and Franklin St. The team practices at Merritt College and will host home games at Oakland Arena. It is registered as an independent program and won't petition the NAIA or NCAA for placement until next year.
The Oaklanders lost Payton's coaching debut 83-72 on the road at Western Washington on Wednesday.
Payton, who spent his first 13 years in the NBA with the Seattle Supersonics, will prepare the team for a matchup with Central Washington on Friday before going back to Seattle to face Seattle Pacific the next day.
Newly named as one of the NBA's best 75 players of all-time, Payton's only coaching experience was in Ice Cube's 3-on-3 league The Big3. The nine-time all-star is molding his own coaching style from greats like Pat Riley, George Karl and his own college coach at Oregon State, Ralph Miller.
"We don't have too many off-days," The Skyline High School grad Payton said "I give them one day, Sunday. They can go to church and watch some football but they've gotta be ready on Monday."
Payton feels like his old school ways of coaching are starting to get through to his players.
"We've been having some rough practices for the last week. Today was a great day and all the players came up to me and said 'coach we [are] starting to get it, we [are] starting to get it. I appreciate you staying tough on me," Payton said "And all of them always say 'if it wasn't for you coach we wouldn't know how to play right now. We never knew how to play like that. All of the other coaches just threw the ball out for us and let us do what we want.'"
While building up the program as a winner is the ultimate goal, Payton also senses the bigger picture.
"I'm getting them to become men. Not just basketball players," Payton said. "I'm getting them to become grown men to respect."
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