The History of the Seattle Supersonics - CrownHoops (2024)

The history of the Seattle Supersonics was one filled with highs and lows. From their inaugural season in 1967 all the way to it’s ending in 2008, the Supersonics had a pretty good franchise. It was home to some of the NBA greats like Gus Williams, Jack Sikma, Gary Payton, Shawn Kemp, Ray Allen, and even a rookie Kevin Durant. They were able to notch up three western conference titles and an NBA championship in 1979. With the rich history of the Sonics, it was certainly a surprise from the fans that ownership decided to move and rebrand the franchise.

The Seattle Supersonics History

The Beginning

The Seattle SuperSonics were founded by two Los Angeles businessmen Sam Schulman and Eugene V Klein on December 20, 1966, and became the first pro sports team out of Seattle. The Sonics finished their inaugural season at a record of just 23-59, needing a lot of improvement. They made a move that sent their all-star Walt Hazzard to the Atlanta Hawks in exchange for Lenny Wilkens. In only two years and with the arrival of Spencer Haywood from the ABA, the Sonics managed to capture it’s first winning season in franchise history.

The Championship

During the 1977-78 season, Lenny Wilkens returned to be the Head Coach after he was traded during the 1972-73 season. After starting 5-17 before Wilkens, they went on to win eleven of their first twelve games under Wilkens and finished the season 47-35. They made a run to the NBA finals that season but fell short in seven games to the Washington Bullets. In the following season, they managed to keep most of their roster. Because of that, they managed to win their first division title in franchise history and made a run back to the NBA Finals. They went on to face the Washington Bullets again, and the Sonics won the rematch in seven games led by Gus Williams, Jack Sikma, and Finals MVP Dennis Johnson.

The 90’s Era

After their championship run in 1979, they hit a decline through the ’80s after the original team owner Sam Schulman sold the team to Barry Ackerley. The struggles continued until 1989 when they drafted Shawn Kemp and in 1990 when they drafted Gary Payton. This is when we see a turnaround with the team. They even posted 63-19 record in the 1993-94 season but became the first number 1 seed to lose to an 8 seed in the playoffs when they fell to the Denver Nuggets. A couple of years later in the 1995-96 season, they posted up a franchise-best 64-18 record and won their Western Conference title. In the Finals, they fell to the 72-10 Chicago Bulls in six games. They would continue to have good seasons after their finals run until Head Coach George Karl and management had disagreements, which led to the end of his tenure

The Struggles and Ultimate Loss

In the 2002-03 season, the Sonics would trade their all-star Gary Payton to the Milwaukee Bucks. They would also end up with their first losing season in 11 years at the time. They did have a good year in the 2004-05 season, but Head Coach Nate McMillian left to go to the Portland Trail Blazers. In 2006, the owner at the time Howard Schultz sold the Sonics to the Professional Basketball Club LLC, which was led by an Oklahoma City Businessman Clay Bennett. This was due to the lack of support from the Washington government to remodel the Sonics home court Key Arena. After Bennett bought the team, he also failed to pursued local governments to build an arena. This resulted in him wanting to move to Oklahoma City.

The Controversy of the Move

After Clay Bennett made legal settlements to the city of Seattle, the move was now official. Before the settlement was made, emails were leaked out that showed that Bennett and his group wanted to move the team before they even bought the team. This caused a lawsuit from Schultz, which was later voided. Fans felt betrayed by the ownership and the city.

Seattle hasn’t had a team since, and most fans want to see a team back there soon. Will the NBA ever send a team back to Seattle?

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Heath Sutphin

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The History of the Seattle Supersonics - CrownHoops (2024)

FAQs

The History of the Seattle Supersonics - CrownHoops? ›

The Beginning

What is the history of the Seattle SuperSonics? ›

The SuperSonics (also known as the Sonics) were a professional basketball franchise based in Seattle, Washington, that was a member of the National Basketball Association (NBA). The Sonics played from 1967 until 2008, but relocated from Seattle to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and were renamed as the Thunder.

What are the achievements of the Seattle SuperSonics? ›

Seattle SuperSonics won the NBA championship in 1979. The franchise won Western Conference titles in 1978, 1979 and 1996; and six divisional titles—their last being in 2005—five in the Pacific Division and one in the Northwest Division.

Why did Seattle lose the SuperSonics? ›

After failing to find public funding to construct a new arena in the Seattle area, the SuperSonics moved to Oklahoma City before the 2008–09 season, following a $45 million settlement with the city of Seattle to pay off their existing lease at the KeyArena at Seattle Center before it expired in 2010.

Why did Seattle SuperSonics change their name? ›

When the Seattle Supersonics were moved to Oklahoma City following the 2007-08 season, fans voted on the team's new name from a set list of possibilities. The name Thunder was chosen over others like the Bison, Wind, Energy, Marshalls and Barons (per Mentalfloss.com's Scott Allen).

Did the SuperSonics have a championship? ›

On June 1, 1979, the Seattle SuperSonics beat the Washington Bullets in the NBA Finals for their first and only championship in franchise history.

Is Seattle Sonics coming back? ›

Now that the new media rights are getting closer to being finalized, it appears Seattle could have the Sonics back playing inside the NHL Kraken's Climate Pledge Arena at Seattle Center by perhaps the fall of 2027. That would be for the beginning of the 2027-28 NBA season.

Who is the owner of the Sonics? ›

'” It's not quite that simple, as Karl himself acknowledges. The CliffsNotes of the CliffsNotes version is that Sonics owner Howard Schultz sold the team to Oklahoma City tycoon Clay Bennett, who moved the team to his native town after two years of drama that drained the emotions of Sonics die-hards.

Are there 32 NBA teams? ›

The National Basketball Association (NBA) is a professional basketball league in North America composed of 30 teams (29 in the United States and 1 in Canada).

Why did NBA get rid of Seattle? ›

This lack of taxpayer or government financial support for the team, combined with earlier losses under recent ownership groups, "likely doomed the Sonics' future in the city". On February 12, 2007, Bennett proposed using tax money to pay for a new $500 million arena in Renton, Washington, a suburb of Seattle.

Who is the Seattle SuperSonics biggest rival? ›

The Portland Trail Blazers and Seattle SuperSonics played 180 miles apart, from the Blazers' arrival in 1970 to the Sonics' departure in 2008. The teams each won just one NBA Championship, two years apart (Portland in 1977, Seattle in 1979).

Why is Seattle called SuperSonics? ›

The SuperSonics name, submitted by a school-age boy and selected by original owner Sam Schulman, pays homage to the Boeing 2707, a state-of-the-art supersonic transport designed to fly at Mach 2.7 (2.7 times the speed of sound).

Who replaced Seattle SuperSonics? ›

The Supersonics left Seattle for Oklahoma City in 2008, changing its team name to the Thunder in the process.

What was the SuperSonics old mascot? ›

From 1978 through 1985 the Wheedle was the official mascot of the NBA's Seattle SuperSonics, and was part of the organization when they won their only NBA Championship to date (in 1979). It would not be until 1993 that the Sonics would debut a new mascot, Squatch, who was the team's mascot until 2008.

Which coach let the Seattle SuperSonics to the 1979 NBA title? ›

The SuperSonics won 11 of their first 12 games under Wilkens and made the playoffs in back-to-back years, losing in seven games to the Washington Bullets in the 1978 NBA Finals before returning to the 1979 NBA Finals and defeating the Washington Bullets in five games for their only NBA title.

When did the Seattle SuperSonics turn into the Oklahoma City Thunder? ›

The Supersonics left Seattle for Oklahoma City in 2008, changing its team name to the Thunder in the process. Ballmer desired to move a team to Seattle because he was living in the state of Washington, and said his wife did not want to leave.

Why are the SuperSonics called that? ›

The SuperSonics name, submitted by a school-age boy and selected by original owner Sam Schulman, pays homage to the Boeing 2707, a state-of-the-art supersonic transport designed to fly at Mach 2.7 (2.7 times the speed of sound).

When was the last year the Seattle SuperSonics played? ›

The Seattle SuperSonics, also known the Sonics, are a former professional basketball team based from Seattle, Washington, United States, that played from 1967 to 2008.

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