Payton plans to return OSU favor, after all


Word going around Seattle last week was that Oregon State's announcement of Gary Payton's $3 million gift to build a new basketball training center on the Corvallis campus was premature, and because of it, the SuperSonics guard might renege.

Payton and his agents, Aaron and Eric Goodwin, had asked OSU not to say anything until they approved the donation. But the Beavers didn't reveal anything. Payton did in a newspaper interview.

And it turns out everything is fine.

'Gary just wants to wait until the off-season to sit down and finalize the details,' Eric Goodwin says, 'but it's going to happen.'

Says Payton: 'That school did a lot for me. I'm glad for a chance to return the favor. It will be a nice plus for them. The new facility will let a lot of (recruits) know we mean business down there. We are going to get back on top again.'

• Joe Kleine still remembers the retirement 'gift' he got from Blazer management, a story recounted last week by the San Francisco Chronicle.

The 7-foot center ended a 15-year NBA career with an ill-fated season in Portland in 1999-2000, playing only seven games and 31 minutes. But Kleine's agent, Jeff Austin, called him during the summer of 2000 to tell him that, for salary-cap purposes, he might be included in a trade involving Brian Grant.

'Called me in the middle of the night to tell me that,' Kleine told the Tribune. 'I laughed it off, hung up and went back to sleep.'

A month later, Kleine was driving from his home in Little Rock, Ark., to nearby Fayetteville when his cellphone rang. It was Austin.

'I have one thing to say to you,' Austin told Kleine. 'This is not a hoax.'

Kleine was being included in the Jermaine O'Neal trade to Indiana for Dale Davis. Kleine didn't have to unretire. All he had to do was sign his name to a contract, and $1 million was his.

'I stopped in the next town and used a fax machine,' Kleine says. 'I told Jeff to get it to them as soon as possible before they changed their mind. I just won the lottery.'

Kleine, 40, is not exactly twiddling his thumbs. He is a TV analyst for Arkansas basketball, dabbles in real estate, consults for an investment firm and coaches his son's basketball team.

'I never knew coaching a seventh-grade team could be so stressful,' he says with a laugh. 'If I knew I was going to be this busy, I'd have gone to Indiana.'

Not really. Kleine says he sometimes misses the NBA, 'but sometimes not. When you are watching a big game on TV, you miss it. When you read about the Blazers in Sports Illustrated, you don't miss it. You hope it isn't true, but a lot of it is.

'You hope some of those guys wake up and take a look around and figure it out. Some of them think they are a little more important than they are.'

• Another ex-Blazer, Detlef Schrempf, can be seen as a basketball player (along with George Gervin, Xavier McDaniel and others) in an oft-run IBM commercial filmed in Los Angeles.

'They called me up and wanted to get some retired players and wondered if I were interested,' says Schrempf, who watched from courtside when the Blazers beat the Sonics in Seattle last week. 'Since I'm a computer geek anyway, I thought it would be fun to do.'

Schrempf, 39, helps run a money-management firm in Seattle. His clients have included 'quite a few professional athletes.' He also has more time for his wife and two boys, ages 11 and 9.

• Longtime Salt Lake City Tribune beat writer Steve Luhm wasn't hurt when Rasheed Wallace, swinging at a TV monitor after losing his cool during Saturday's Blazers-Utah game, also grazed Luhm's head, knocking off his glasses.

'He smacked the monitor pretty good, but I'm fine,' Luhm says. 'He just lost his temper for a minute. No harm, no foul. I suspect the Blazers may get billed for the monitor, though.'

Wallace leads the NBAwith 17 technicals, including five in the past four games.

• Jermaine O'Neal won't be the only former member of the Blazer family in Philadelphia for the All-Star weekend. Seattle trainer Mike Shimensky, who was with the Blazers from 1988-94, will serve as trainer of the West squad. It will be the second All-Star Game for Shimensky, who also worked in 1991 when Portland's Rick Adelman was coach.

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