Super Sonics moments
With the NBA staying out of Seattle, at least in the immediate future, basketball fans in Washington State will tune into the finals glum about their lack of a team for next season.
It’s an especially heinous crime given Seattle’s rich basketball history and culture, well represented by the many Seattle natives currently in the league.
If I had to pick my favorite moments watching the Sonics growing up, I’d point to these four in particular.
The 1998 Division Title
It seems hard to remember now, but at the end of the nineties, the Sonics were one of the premier teams in the game.
The 1998 Pacific Division title, coming on the heels of the 1997 Division title, was a hard-fought one where the Sonics actually tied with the Lakers for first place in the division, but won on tiebreakers, given both teams posted identical 61-21 records.
Any 60-win season where the Lakers lose something is a highlight for me.*
The 1996 NBA Finals
Okay, I’m cheating a little bit here, since I was three during this series, but this was probably the best Sonics team of all time (yes, better than the ’79 championship team), and watching at least some of their games should be mandatory for any Seattle basketball fan.
This team was stacked. Gary Payton. Shawn Kemp. Hersey Hawkins. Nate McMillan. And Detlef Schrempf, (the prehistoric Dirk Nowitzki).
All-Stars and future Hall of Famers everywhere you looked, the team compiled a 64-18 regular season record.
Unfortunately, they ran into Michael Jordan’s Bulls and lost in six.
It was just bad luck that the best NBA team ever assembled in Seattle crashed into the best NBA player ever on one of the best NBA teams of all time.
But it was remarkable team nonetheless, and Gary Payton’s trash-talk and defense gave Michael Jordan fits in the series.
Ray Allen’s Single Season 3 Pointer Record
On April 19th, 2006, Ray Allen swished a dagger against the Nuggets to snap Dennis Scott’s record for most three pointers in a season.
He would finish with the NBA single-season record for threes, with 269. Stephen Curry broke his single season record this year, but since then, Ray Allen has also passed Reggie Miller for most career three-pointers.
Undisputedly one of the greatest shooters to ever walk the Earth, watching Ray Allen set the single-season record in the green and yellow was an all-time Sonics highlight.
The Surprise 2005 Run
My last fond memory of the Sonics was the remarkable 2005 season, as the team shocked many by winning the Northwest Division in style, losing in the playoffs to eventual champion San Antonio Spurs.
Ray Allen did it all en-route to an All-NBA second team appearance. The team was fun to watch and played with an inspired spirit to a devoted fan-base that would be unmatched in the dark years to come.
Ever since 2005, things have gone pretty steadily downhill for Seattle basketball fans. But Seattle has history. Unlike Oklahoma City, this town has a basketball past, and in time it will have a future again.
(*The Lakers would later defeat the Sonics in the playoffs, but that’s beside the point).