Classic Photos of the Seattle SuperSonics
An NBA mainstay for 41 years before relocating to Oklahoma City and becoming the Thunder in 2008, the Sonics may be on the verge of returning to the NBA. According to reports, the Maloofs are close to selling the Kings to a Seattle-based group, who would move the team back to Seattle for the 2013-14 season. In honor of The Emerald City's hoops fans, here are some classic photos of the SuperSonics. In this photo, Donald Earl "Slick" Watts strikes a pose during a SuperSonics-Hawks game in 1976. Although he retired after just six NBA seasons with three teams, the undrafted guard signed by Seattle as a free agent after a tryout played an important role and became an NBA All-Defensive first-teamer during the 1975-76 season.
Tom Burleson and Dave Cowens
Center Tom Burleson shoots against Celtics center Dave Cowens during a 1976 game. Burleson was the third overall pick for the 1974 NBA draft, the same year he led North Carolina State to a memorable NCAA championship victory.
Gus Williams and Walt Frazier
Gus Williams waits for the referee's call after being fouled by Walt Frazier. Williams started playing for the Seattle SuperSonics in the 1977-1978 season and led his team to the 1979 championship.
The 1979-1980 Sonics pose for a team photo at the Seattle Waterfront. Led by Gus Williams and a young Dennis Johnson, the reigning NBA champions charged to the Western Conference finals before they were derailed by a Lakers squad featuring rookie sensation Magic Johnson. The Sonics would not make it back to the conference finals until 1987.
Fred Brown breaks away from the Denver Nuggets during a 1978 game. Brown was the sixth pick in the 1971 draft and captain of the Sonics' NBA championship team in 1978-79.
The 7-foot Marvin Webster shows of his game as he soars across the key at home against the Denver Nuggets. Webster averaged 14 points during his only season with Seattle.
Jack Sikma and Paul Silas
Jack Sikma and Paul Silas look to rebound against the Boston Celtics during a 1978 game. Both players collected more than 10,000 rebounds during their careers. Sikma and Silas were also both players during the 1988-1989 season when the Sonics won the NBA Championship.
Wes Unseld and Paul Silas
Seattle SuperSonics player Paul Silas (35) raises a hand as he's covered by Washington Bullets big man Wes Unseld (41) during Game 4 of the 1978 NBA Finals. The Sonics would drop the series to Washington, 4-3, but decisively defeat the Bullets in a Finals rematch a year later, 4-1, for the franchise's only title.
Lenny Wilkens and Fans
SuperSonics Coach Lenny Wilkens raises the NBA World Championship trophy amongst thousands of fans in celebration of their victory over the Washington Bullets on June 4, 1979. Wilkens was the only coach to ever lead the Sonics to an NBA Championship victory.
SuperSonics guard Dennis Johnson (24) has champagne poured on his head as forward John Johnson (27 -- no relation) celebrates the team's 1979 championship victory, a Game 5 win over the Washington Bullets in Landover, Md., for the franchise's first and only championship. The Sonics also made Finals appearances in 1978 and 1996.
Guard Paul Westphal sports a grin and a requisite umbrella for SI's 1980 basketball preview, after leaving the Phoenix Suns for Seattle for that season. Westphal played only the one NBA season of his 12 with the Sonics, averaging just better than 20 points per game in leading the team to a Conference Finals loss to the L.A. Lakers.
A 29 year-old Gus "The Wizard" Williams poses in Seattle prior to the 1982-83 season in which he started all 80 games and averaged 20 points.
A fan favorite lauded for his athleticism and versatility, Xavier "X-Man" McDaniel was one of the most recognizable Sonics of the 1980s. In the 1986-87 season, McDaniel and teammates Dale Ellis and Tom Chambers each averaged over 19 points per game and surprisingly took the Sonics to the Western Conference Finals, where they would be swept by the Los Angeles Lakers.
Terrence Stansbury pulls the ball back for a reverse jam during the 1987 NBA Slam Dunk contest at Key Arena in Seattle. Though he played only three seasons in the NBA, Stansbury competed in the Slam Dunk contest in each of those years. He finished third in all three contests, losing to accomplished dunkers Dominique Wilkins, Spud Webb and Michael Jordan.
Xavier McDaniel and James Worthy
Seattle forward Xavier McDaniel backs down Hall of Famer James Worthy. McDaniel contributed 39 points in this Supersonics victory over the star-studded Lakers.
Sonics forward Tom Chambers shows off his cowboy spirit in the Seattle Coliseum. A first-round draft pick in 1981 by the Clippers, Chambers played five seasons in Seattle.
Olden Polynice, Derrick McKey and Xavier McDaniel
Olden Polynice, Derrick McKey, and Xavier McDaniel look to rebound against the Boston Celtics during a 1988 game. McDaniel was a first-round draft pick for the Seattle Supersonics in 1985, started immediately and proved to be a valuable asset to the team, averaging 21.4 points per game in the 1987-1988 season.
Dale Ellis and Tony Campbell
Dale Ellis shoots a jumper over Tony Campbell. Ellis was the leading scorer on the team from 1986-87 until the 1989-90 season.
Seattle power forward Shawn Kemp in mid-flight during the NBA Slam Dunk Contest in Charlotte, N.C., circa 1991. Though "Reign Man" was a six-time all-star, three-time participant in the dunk competition, and perhaps best remembered for his highlight reel jams, he never won the contest, taking second to Boston's Dee Brown at this particular competition.
It wasn't often that Shawn Kemp was sitting down in his time in a Seattle uniform. Perhaps the highest flyer of them all, Kemp was a superb athlete known for his ferocious slam dunks and animated facial expressions. In six seasons ranging from 1991-1997, Kemp averaged at least 15 points and 10 rebounds per game and established himself as one of the league's most powerful big men. After the Sonics shockingly signed the unheralded Jim McIlvaine to a seven-year $35 million contract instead of Kemp, the outraged star would soon be traded to Cleveland in a blockbuster three-team deal that brought Baker to Seattle and effectively derailed his career.
Supersonics guard Gary Payton dives for a loose ball against the Sacramento Kings. "The Glove" was known for his superb defensive abilities and his hustle on the court.
Nate McMillan and Scott Brooks
Nate McMillan drives on Scott Brooks during a 1993 playoff game between the Spurs and Rockets. McMillan spent all 12 years of his playing career in Seattle and coached the team for five seasons from 2000-05.
George Karl and Gary Payton
Head coach George Karl gives instruction on the court to guard Gary Payton at Seattle's Key Arena during a game against the Phoenix Suns in 1994. The two paired up for six full seasons, their best showing an NBA Finals series loss the Chicago Bulls, 4-2, during the 1995-96 season.
Detlef Schrempf and Clyde Drexler
During Game 3 of the Western Conference Semifinal, Detlef Schrempf posts up Rockets legend Clyde Drexler. The Supersonics were eventually defeated in a competitive 7 game series.
Vin Baker gazes up to the scoreboard during a game against Houston Rockets at Key Arena in Seattle. Baker played five seasons in Seattle and led the team in both scoring and rebounding in the 1997-98 campaign. Baker and Gary Payton are the only two players to play for the USA Olympic team as members of the Sonics.
Danny Fortson, Michael Olowokandi, Wally Szczerbiak and Kevin Garnett
Danny Fortson overpowers Michael Olowokandi, Wally Szcerbiak and Kevin Garnett during the fourth quarter of a 2004 Sonics-Timberwolves game. During the 2004-2005 season, Fortson registered the second-highest total for technical fouls among active NBA players.
Ray Allen scores against the Sacramento Kings during Game 5 of their first round playoff series. The Sonics defeated the Kings to win the series, with Allen leading the Sonics scoring with 30 points. In 2006, Allen reached
Nineteen-year-old Kevin Durant is all smiles during his third game in the league, against the Clippers. Durant led to Supersonics to victory and went on to average over 20 points per game during his rookie year.