Where were you 30 years ago today?
On June 1, 1979 at about 7:00 pm in Oak Harbor, I sat glued to the television watching Gus Williams hurl the basketball in the air as my beloved Seattle Supersonics defeated the Washington Bullets in Landover, MD for the first professional championship in Seattle sports history.
As a 14-year old sports fanatic, the Sonics were my team. I followed them starting about 1974 when Bill Russell stalked the sideline and Fred Brown, Slick Watts, and Spencer Haywood were the stars.
The Sonics had lost to the Bullets in the Finals the previous year in a tough seven games series. After starting the season 5-17, Lenny Wilkens took over the team and led them to the Finals in an incredible turn of events. In the post-season, the Sonics lost Marvin Webster to the Knicks and picked up Lonnie Shelton as compensation. It turned into the final piece of the puzzle.
It was a magical year. Lenny Wilkens led a great team back through the grind of the NBA season in 1978-79. They were the best defensive team in the league statistically. This was a team that was beloved by the Seattle community. I say it was a great team and that is so overstated these days, but it applies to this team. No superstars – just a blend of very good players who worked as a team and believed in themselves…
Gus Williams, Dennis Johnson, Jack Sikma, John Johnson, Lonnie Shelton, Fred Brown, Paul Silas, Wally Walker, Joe Hassett, Tom LaGarde, Dick Snyder, Dennis Awtrey, Lars Hansen, and Jackie Robinson
As I sit here this morning listening to Lenny Wilkens reminisce on radio, it takes me back thirty years. I can see the games, hear the great voice of Bob Blackburn, and remember the feeling of watching my hometown guys win it all. The Sonics were stolen from us last year (it’s my article and I can say stolen if I want) after 41 years. There is still pain for not having them around, but today I remember very fondly that year, that team, and that moment.
Sports is a great equalizer. Culture, race, religion don’t matter. When you root for a team like the 1979 Sonics, you are all part of the same team. They also leave some of the greatest memories in your life. I still have my Sonics championship t-shirt.
Thank you to the 1979 Sonics for memories that will last forever.