The Ritzville Adams County Journal - Eastern Adams County's Only Independent Voice Since 1887

By Dale Anderson
Sports Columnist 

Worst Seat In The House: I remember that


Last updated 6/12/2019 at 3:32pm

There is a saying that I like to use now and then: “Time flies when you are having fun!” If that is the case I must be having a blast. Just last Friday it occurred to me that I had been retired for a year. On June 1st I remembered that it had been 40 years since the Seattle Supersonics had won the NBA championship. This brings to mind that whenever I’m asked the question, “What is your favorite NBA team?” I always answer the Seattle Supersonics.

Of course, I’m hit with the Seattle Supersonics are no longer an NBA team I say, “But they are my favorite team since I have no love for any present NBA teams.” Case closed!

I remember Coach Lenny Wilkens and players Gus Williams, Dennis Johnson, John Johnson, Jack Sikma, Lonnie Shelton, Paul Silas and Downtown Freddie Brown playing the Washington Bullets in a rematch of the 1978 championship series. It was magical for us fans in the Pacific Northwest. We were so close in 1978 we needed the Sonics to be crowned champs in 1979. I’m not sure how we would have reacted had the Supes not won that year. Thankfully we will never know.

Seattle had some great success for the next couple of seasons but couldn’t get back to the NBA finals. Jack Sikma, who will be inducted into the Hall of Fame, had some great seasons. Dennis Johnson would be traded away and Gus Williams would get into a contract dispute which would hurt his career as a great basketball player. He never returned to the form that made if so tough. Retirement would also take its toll with an experienced lineup.

Lenny Wilkens as the head coach was masterful but also great for the Seattle community. A few years after Wilkens retired from coaching, and during the Christmas season he donned a Santa suit because he thought that kids should see a black Santa Claus. He was a huge hit.

Years later Seattle had some great teams and would reach the NBA finals with Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp only to get defeated by the Chicago Bulls and Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen in 1996. And now the Supersonics are no longer, losing the franchise to Oklahoma City in 2008.

It is amazing when I think back on it that we all thought the Sonics would have at least one more championship if not more. Doggone it the team was just too good not to blow away the competition for another couple of years. But then Larry Bird and Magic Johnson came into the league and that changed the face of the NBA and made Seattle nothing more than an afterthought.

As good as Seattle was and would be in the nineties it was just never enough. The Chicago Bulls made sure of that.

The eighties were dominated by the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers. The nineties saw Chicago garner 6 NBA titles with a couple of Houston Rockets championships mixed in when Michael Jordan ventured out to play professional baseball.

I miss the Seattle Supersonics and maybe one day they will return to the Emerald City, but I doubt that any team will ever be captivated by the Seattle community like the 1978-79 team was. Those were magical times for the entire Pacific Northwest. The Sonics were full of heroes on their roster and that’s a very good memory to have.


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