Seattle SuperSonics History



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Seattle SuperSonics History

1966-2000



December 20, 1966 Seattle is awarded the newest franchise city in the National Basketball Association.

January 11, 1967 Eugene Klein is awarded the Seattle franchise by NBA Commissioner J. Walter Kennedy. Klein’s principal owner is Sam Schulman. Don Richman is selected as the team’s first General Manager and Dick Vertlieb is named the Business Manager of the new franchise.

February, 1967 A name is selected for the Seattle franchise as a result of a local contest. The winning entry, “SuperSonics,” is submitted by Seattle teacher Howard E. Schmidt and his son Brent.

March, 1967 Al Bianchi, an assistant coach with the Chicago Bulls, is named the SuperSonics’ first head coach.

May 1, 1967 Tom Meschery from the San Francisco Warriors is the first player chosen in the expansion draft. The Sonics also select Dave Duetsch and Henry Akin from the New York Knicks, Walt Hazzard from the Los Angeles Lakers, Bud Olsen from the San Francisco Warriors, Dorie Murrey and Ron Reed from the Detroit Pistons, Rod Thorn, Richie Guerin and Tom Kron from the St. Louis Hawks, Bob Weiss and Nate Bowman from the Philadelphia 76ers, Ben Warley from the Baltimore Bullets, Ronn Watts from the Boston Celtics and George Wilson from the Chicago Bulls.

May 3, 1967 The Sonics select Al Tucker of Oklahoma Baptist as their first-ever college pick in the 1967 NBA Draft. The team also picks Bob Rule from Colorado State and Plummer Lott of Seattle University.

June 26, 1967 The Sonics first rookie camp opens at Seattle Pacific University. Twenty-seven free-agents and draftees attend the week-long session.

September 1, 1967 The Sonics begin their first training camp at Seattle Pacific University with nine veterans and six rookies.

September 15, 1967 The Sonics’ inaugural roster is set: Bob Rule, Bud Olsen, Walt Hazzard, Bob Weiss, Rod Thorn, Al Tucker, Tom Meschery, Tommy Kron, Henry Akin, Dorie Murrey, George Wilson and Plummer Lott.

September 19, 1967 The Sonics play their inaugural game, a preseason game vs. the San Diego Rockets in San Diego. San Diego wins 126-115.

September 23, 1967 The Sonics celebrate their first-ever NBA victory, a 116-110 preseason triumph over the Cincinnati Royals.

October 8, 1967 The Sonics lose their first home preseason game, falling to the St. Louis Hawks 148-129.

October 11, 1967 The Sonics conclude their first preseason with a 3-9 record.

October 13, 1967 The Sonics lose their inaugural regular season game to the San Francisco 144-116. In attendance are the Sonics’ principal owners, Eugene Klein and Sam Schulman, along with Pierre Salinger, former presidential press secretary and a minority stockholder.

October 20, 1967 The Sonics lose their regular season home debut to the San Diego Rockets 121-114.

October 21, 1967 The Sonics record their first regular season NBA victory, defeating San Diego in overtime 117-110.

December 5, 1967 Walt Hazzard scored 15 consecutive points in a game against the San Francisco Warriors, tying the NBA record held by Wilt Chamberlain.

January 23, 1968 Walt Hazzard represents the Sonics at the NBA All-Star Game in New York. He is joined on the West squad by future Sonic Lenny Wilkens. The East wins 144-124.

March 20, 1968 The Sonics complete their first NBA season by defeating the Chicago Bulls 122-104 before a home crowd of 10,429. Seattle’s final attendance is 202,263, an average of 6,524 for 31 dates. The Sonics finish in fifth place in the Western Division with a 23-59 record. Walt Hazzard finishes seventh in the league in scoring (23.9 ppg) and fifth in assists (6.2 apg). Bob Rule finishes ninth in the league in scoring (18.1 ppg).

April 9, 1968 Bob Rule and Al Tucker are near-unanimous choices on the NBA All-Rookie Team. The rookies receive 11 of 12 votes from NBA head coaches. The other three rookies on the squad are Earl Monroe, Walt Frazier and Phil Jackson.

May 5, 1968 The Sonics lose George Wilson, Bob Weiss and Bud Olsen in the 1968 expansion draft. Wilson goes to the Phoenix Suns, while Weiss and Olsen are selected by the Milwaukee Bucks.

May 8, 1968 The Sonics select Art Harris and Al Hairston in the 1968 NBA Draft.

May 9, 1968 Don Richman resigns as General Manages; Dick Vertlieb is promoted to General Manager.

September 11, 1968 Rookie camp begins at Seattle Pacific University.

September 17, 1968 Training camp for rookies and veterans begins at Seattle Pacific University.

October 12, 1968 Lenny Wilkens is obtained from the Atlanta Hawks for Walt Hazzard.

November 8, 1968 Lenny Wilkens records franchise’s first triple-double with 30 points, 12 rebounds and 14 assists to lead the Sonics to a 128-124 overtime victory over Phoenix.

January 14, 1969 Lenny Wilkens represents the Sonics in his sixth NBA All-Star Game in nine years. The East defeats the West 123-112 in Baltimore.

March 22, 1969 The Sonics finish sixth in the Western Division with a 30-52 record, 25 games behind the L.A. Lakers. Bob Rule finishes fourth in the NBA in scoring (24.0 ppg). Wilkens finished second in the league in assists (8.2 apg) and ninth in scoring (22.5 ppg).

April 8, 1969 The Sonics select 6-2 guard Lucius Allen of UCLA as their first round choice in the 1969 NBA Draft.

April 11, 1969 The Sonics’ Art Harris is named to the NBA All-Rookie Team along with Wes Unseld, Bill Hewitt, Elvin Hayes and Gary Gregor.

July 11, 1969 Al Bianchi resigns as head coach after two seasons.

August 5, 1969 Lenny Wilkens is named as the Sonics’ new head coach.

September 16, 1969 Training camp opens at Peninsula Junior College in Port Angeles, Washington. Tom Meschery is named as the Sonics’ first assistant coach. Both he and Lenny Wilkens will be “player-coaches.”

October 1, 1969 General Manager Dick Vertlieb resigns; public relations director Hal Childa assumes the duties of General Manager and Business Manager until a replacement is named.

October 7, 1969 Zollie Volchok is named the Sonics’ Supervisor of Operations on an interim basis.

November 15, 1969 Bob Rule scores a then-team record 49 points and grabs 19 rebounds to lead the Sonics to a 146-136 win over Philadelphia.

November 25, 1969 Bob Houbreg is named the General Manager of the Sonics. Zollie Volchok remains as Vice President and part-time consultant to the team.

November 29, 1969 Lenny Wilkens hands out a then-team record 18 assists while leading the Sonics to a 130-129 win over Phoenix.

January 20, 1970 Lenny Wilkens represents the Sonics at the NBA All-Star Game. The East defeats the West 142-135.

March 23, 1970 The Sonics finish the season with a 36-46 record and rank sixth in the league in home attendance, attracting 278,444 fans to 36 home games for an average of 7,734.

December 30, 1970 Spencer Haywood is signed to a multi-year contract after a federal judge in Los Angeles ruled that his contract with the Denver Rockets of the ABA was invalid.

January 12, 1971 Lenny Wilkens is named the NBA All-Star Game MVP after scoring 21 points to lead the West to a 108-107 win over the East at San Diego.

March 1, 1971 In an order signed by Justice William O. Douglas, Spencer Haywood wins permission from the Supreme Court to play for the Sonics pending further litigation.

March 26, 1971 Spencer Haywood will return for the 1971-72 season as the undisputed property of the SuperSonics. A breach of contract suit brought by Haywood’s former club, the Denver Rockets of the ABA, is settled out of court. U.S. District Court Judge Warren J. Ferguson dismisses a federal jury that was hearing the case.

March 29, 1971 The Sonics select Iowa’s Fred Brown as their first-round pick in the 1971 NBA Draft.

October 12, 1971 For the first time in the history of the franchise, the Sonics win their season opener, 123-90 over Buffalo.

November 25, 1971 Bob Rule, the last original Sonic, is traded to the Philadelphia 76ers for two second-round draft choices and cash.

January 18, 1972 Spencer Haywood represents the Sonics as the starting forward at the NBA All-Star Game. The West defeats the East 112-110 in Los Angeles.

March 26, 1972 The Sonics finish the season with a 47-35 record, the best mark in the franchise’s young history.

April 2, 1972 Lenny Willkens resigns as the Sonics’ player-coach to remain with the team as a player.

April 10, 1972 The Sonics pick Bud Stallworth in the first round of the 1972 NBA Draft.

April 20, 1972 Tom Nissalke, ABA Coach of the Year with the Dallas Chaparrals, signs a contract to coach the Sonics.

May 2, 1972 Morris (Bucky) Buckwalter, former head coach at Seattle University, is hired as an assistant coach.

August 23, 1972 Lenny Wilkens is traded to Cleveland along with Barry Clemens for Butch Beard.

November 13, 1972 The Sonics lose their seventh game in a row, 113-107 to Cleveland. The game is marked by the first appearance of Lenny Wilkens in Seattle in a Cavalier uniform. Lenny scores 22 points against his former team.

January 3, 1973 Spencer Haywood sets a team record of 51 points in a 107-100 win over the Kansas City Kings. The previous record was 49 points by Bob Rule vs. Philadelphia on November 15, 1969.

January 10, 1973 Head coach Tom Nissalke is fired prior to a game against the Baltimore Bullets. Assistant Coach Bucky Buckwalter is named as the interim head coach.

January 23, 1973 Spencer Haywood starts at forward for the West at the NBA All-Star Game, which is won by the East 104-84 in Chicago.

March 28, 1973 The Sonics end the 1972-73 season with a 26-56 record, the franchise’s worst since their first year in the league.

April 24, 1973 The Sonics draft Mike Green, a 6-10 center from Louisiana Tech, as their first-round pick.

May 5, 1973 Bob Houbregs resigns as general manager. Bucky Buckwalter takes over as interim general manager in addition to already serving as the interim head coach.

May 11, 1973 Bill Russell signs a five-year contract as the Sonics’ head coach and general manager.

May 15, 1973 Spencer Haywood is named to the All-NBA First Team.

July 3, 1973 Emmett Bryant, an assistant coach at Columbia University and former teammates of Bill Russell at Boston, is named an assistant coach.

July 25. 1973 The Sonics trade Butch Beard to Golden State for Mahdi Abdul-Rahman, better known to Seattle fans as Walt Hazzard.

August 7, 1973 Mike Green, the Sonics first-round pick in 1973, signs with the Denver Rockets of the ABA.

September 12, 1973 New Head Coach and General Manager Bill Russell greets 18 Sonics, including four rookies, as training camp commences at Peninsula Community College in Port Angeles, Washington.

January 3, 1974 Spencer Haywood shares the Seattle Post-Intelligencer’s “Man of the Year in Sports” award with former University of Washington football star Calvin Jones and softball manager Bill Fenton.

January 15, 1974 Spencer Haywood scores 23 points and grabs 11 rebounds to lead the West to a 134-123 victory in the NBA All-Star Game at the Seattle Coliseum.

March 23, 1974 Fred Brown sets a team record with 58 points vs. Golden State in a 139-137 victory. His scoring total is the highest in the NBA in seven seasons.

August 2, 1974 Frank Furtado, Seattle Pacific College wrestling coach and physical education instructor, is named the Sonics’ new athletic trainer, replacing Jack Curran, the club’s original trainer.

January 14, 1975 Spencer Haywood participates in his fourth consecutive NBA All-Star Game as the West loses to the East 108-102 at Phoenix.

March 20, 1975 The Sonics earn their first-ever playoff berth by defeating Portland 98-88.

April 4, 1975 The Sonics clinch the home court advantage in their projected playoff series by defeating the L.A. Lakers 111-102.

April 6, 1975 Seattle beats Phoenix 114-111 to end the 1974-75 regular season with club-record-tying seventh win in a row and a 43-39 record, the second-best in franchise history. The team hosted 15 sellouts at the Coliseum, finishing the season with a total attendance of 524,692.

April 12, 1975 The Sonics defeat Detroit 100-92 and win the first round of he playoffs 2-1.

April 24, 1975 Golden State eliminates the Sonics from the playoffs 4-2 with a 105-96 win at the Coliseum.

May 28, 1975 In the 1975 NBA Draft, the Sonics select Seattle University’s Frank Oleynick.

October 23, 1975 Spencer Haywood is traded to New York for the Knicks’ first-round draft pick in 1979 and cash.

January 8, 1976 The Sonics defeat New York 91-89 in a game that marked the first appearance of Spencer Haywood in Seattle since being traded.

February 3, 1976 Fred Brown represents the Sonics in the NBA All-Star Game. The East defeats the West 123-109.

February 26, 1976 The Sonics defeat Buffalo 126-94 for their eighth consecutive victory, a team record.

March 21, 1976 Slick Watts ties the NBA’s single-season record of 228 steals set by Rick Barry during the 1974-75 season.

April 3, 1976 Slick Watts is named the winner of the 1976 Citizenship Award as voted by the Professional Basketball Writers Association of America.

April 11, 1976 The Sonics end the 1975-76 season with a 43-39 record, good for second place in the Pacific Division.

April 27, 1976 The Phoenix Suns eliminate the Sonics from the playoffs with a 123-113 victory in Phoenix.

May 4, 1976 Slick Watts is named to the NBA’s All-Defensive First Team. Watts, who averaged 8.1 assists and 3.18 steals per game, became the first player ever to lead the league in both categories in the same season.

June 8, 1976 The Sonics select guard Bobby Wilkerson of Indiana in the first round of the 1976 NBA Draft.

December 3, 1976 The Sonics snap a 14-game road losing streak that extended back to the previous season with a 121-112 win at Philadelphia.

December 10, 1976 Seattle extends its home winning streak to a club-record 29 games over two seasons with a99-93 win over Golden State.

January 10, 1977 Slick Watts is named the Seattle Post-Intelligencer’s “Man of the Year in Sports” for 1976.

April 5, 1977 The New York Nets end the Sonics’ chances of qualifying for the playoffs by defeating them 88-86.

May 4, 1977 Bill Russell resigns as coach and general manager of the Sonics after completing four years of a five-year contract.

May 13, 1977 Bob Hopkins, an assistant coach under Bill Russell, is named the Sonics’ new head coach. Zollie Volchok is named the general manager, Les Habegger is chosen as the new assistant coach and Lenny Wilkens rejoins the Sonics as director of player personnel.

June 10, 1977 The Sonics select Jack Sikma in the first round of the 1977 NBA Draft.

July 29, 1977 The Sonics announce their intention to move to the Kingdome beginning with 1978-79 season.

October 17, 1977 Gus Williams signs a three-year contract with the Sonics as a free agent. The Sonics and Golden State agree on a cash sum as compensation.

November 11, 1977 Wally Walker is acquired from the Portland Trail Blazers for Detroit’s first-round pick in 1978 (acquired in the Spencer Haywood deal with New York) and a 1979 second-round draft pick.

November 30, 1977 Bob Hopkins is relieved of his coaching duties prior to a game in Kansas City after the Sonics start the season with a 5-17 record. Lenny Wilkens is named the new head coach and leads the Sonics to an 86-84 win over the Kings.

December 2, 1977 Lenny Wilkens for the first time starts John Johnson, Jack Sikma, Marvin Webster, Dennis Johnson and Gus Williams. This will become Wilkens’ “permanent” lineup.

January 4, 1978 Slick Watts is traded to New Orleans for a first-round draft choice in 1981.

February 22, 1978 Gus Williams record 10 steals against New Jersey, tying the Sonics’ record set by Fred Brown at Philadelphia on December 3, 1976.

February 26, 1978 Fred Brown scores 32 points against Philadelphia to pass Spencer Haywood as the Sonics’ all-time leading scorer.

March 11, 1978 Fred Brown scores 25 points against Houston to reach the 1,000-point plateau for the sixth consecutive season.

April 7, 1978 The Sonics clinch home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs by defeating Phoenix 95-83.

April 17, 1978 The Sonics eliminate the L.A. Lakers from playoffs by winning their first round series 2-1 with a 111-102 win at the Coliseum.

May 1, 1978 The Sonics defeat Portland four games to two in the Western Conference Semifinals by defeating the Blazers 105-94.

May 17, 1978 The Sonics defeat the Denver Nuggets 123-108 to win the Western Conference Finals 4-2.

June 7, 1978 Seattle falls to the Washington Bullets in Game 7 of the NBA Finals after leading the series 3-2.

June 9, 1978 The Sonics trade their first-round draft pick to the Denver Nuggets to obtain Tom LaGarde.

October 27, 1978 The Sonics defeat the Milwaukee Bucks 80-79 for a 7-0 start to the season, their best start ever and the second-longest winning streak in the club’s history.

November 24, 1978 A crowd of 25,127 packs the Kingdome to watch the Sonics and the Denver Nuggets, the largest crowd ever to watch a regular season Sonics game up to that time.

December 27, 1978 Paul Silas plays in his 1,123 career NBA game, passing Hal Greer for second place on the NBA’s all-time list for most games played.

January 9, 1979 Lenny Wilkens is named Seattle’s Sports Star of the Year at the annual Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

January 17, 1979 The Sonics trade their 1979 first-round pick to Boston for Dennis Awtrey plus cash.

February 4, 1979 Lenny Wilkens, Les Habegger, Dennis Johnson and Jack Sikma are all members of the winning Western Conference All-Star team. It is Wilkens’ first appearance as a coach after playing in the game nine times. It is the first All-Star appearance for the other three Sonics. Dennis Johnson is third in the balloting for MVP behind winner David Thompson and runner-up Julius Erving.

March 15, 1979 Lonnie Shelton hits all 13 of his field goal attempts against Cleveland to set a Sonics record for consecutive field goals made.

March 28, 1979 The Sonics defeat the New York Knicks 111-105 at the Kingdome, tying the second-longest winning streak in the team’s history at seven. The win is the team’s 48th of the season, guaranteeing the franchise’s best-ever record to date.

April 6, 1979 The Sonics clinch their first-ever Pacific Division Title and the best record in the Western Conference by beating Los Angeles 113-93 at the Forum.

April 8, 1979 In the season finale, the Sonics lose to Golden State 89-86 but still finish the season at 52-30, the best record in the franchise’s 13-year history.

April 25, 1979 The Sonics eliminate the L.A. Lakers from the Western Conference Semifinals 4-1 after defeating them 106-100 at the Coliseum.

May 17, 1979 Seattle prevails over Phoenix 114-110 at the Kingdome to win the Western Conference Finals 4-3 after trailing 3-2 in the series.

June 1, 1979 The Sonics win the NBA World Championship by defeating the Washington Bullets four games to one. After losing Game 1, Seattle won four straight to capture the title with a 97-93 win in Washington in Game 5. Gus Williams led the team in scoring in the series, averaging 28.6 points, while Jack Sikma averaged 14.8 rebounds per game. Dennis Johnson is named the NBA Finals MVP.

June 4, 1979 An estimated crowd of 500,000 fans turn out in downtown Seattle to see the NBA Champion Seattle SuperSonics parade through the streets.

June 25, 1979 The Sonics draft James Bailey of Rutgers (sixth pick overall) and Vinnie Johnson of Baylor (seventh pick overall) in the first round of the 1979 NBA Draft.

June 28, 1979 The Sonics sign Lonnie Shelton to a five-year extension of his contract. The new agreement, spanning seven years, is the longest in the club’s 12-year history.

September 19, 1979 A Federal Judge in New York voids the compensation settlement made by Commissionmer O’Brien in the Marvin Webster case. O’Brien promises that Lonnie Shelton and Vinnie Johnson, both included in the compensation, will not have to leave Seattle as a result of the decision.

October 12, 1979 Dennis Johnson signs a five-year extension of his contract, through the 1984-85 season.

October 19, 1979 Lenny Wilkens’ #19 jersey is retired in a pregame ceremony vs. San Diego, the first such honor bestowed by the team in its 13-year history.

November 23, 1979 A crowd of 33,335 watches the Sonics beat Portland at the Kingdome, setting a club record for largest regular season attendance.

December 21, 1979 Lonnie Shelton accidentally bends a rim when his dunk attempt misfires at the Kingdome. The game is delayed 25 minutes while the rim is replaced.

January 5, 1980 Fred Brown scores his 10,000th career point at Golden State.

January 16, 1980 The Sonics’ 120-100 victory over Washington assures that Lenny Wilkens will serve as the head coach of the West team in the NBA All-Star Game.

January 21, 1980 Dennis Johnson is named the NBA’s Player of the Week after averaging 28.0 points, 6.0 rebounds and 5.0 assists in three games that week.

January 23, 1980 For the second year in a row, Jack Sikma and Dennis Johnson are selected by the Western Conference head coaches to play in the NBA All-Star Game. The Sonics 93-90 win over Atlanta ties the club’s longest winning streak at eight games.

February 3, 1980 The Sonics have five participants in the NBA All-Star Game – Jack Sikma, Dennis Johnson, head coach Lenny Wilkens, assistant coach Les Habegger and trainer Frank Furtado. The East defeats the West in overtime in Landover, Maryland.

February 17, 1980 The Sonics defeat Boston to tie the team record again with an eight-game winning streak.

February 19, 1980 John Johnson becomes the second Sonic of the season to score his 10,000th career point at Chicago.

March 23, 1980 The Sonics set an NBA regular season attendance record, surpassing the New York Knicks’ mark of 790,029 set during the 1971-72 season.

March 30, 1980 The Sonics finished the season with a 56-26 record, the best mark in the franchise’s 13-year history. The team also posts new highs for most wins on the road (23-18) and most wins at home (33-8). The Sonics set NBA attendance records for the largest regular season attendance (890,713) and largest regular season attendance average (21,725).


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