The pro basketball Hall of Famer joined Seattle Times readers for an hourlong chat Monday. Here's the full transcript of his spirited conversation about the Sonics, one-and-done players and even the Seahawks.

Share story

Former Seattle SuperSonics star and NBA legend Spencer Haywood joined Seattle Times readers Monday for a live chat with readers. The chat ran from noon to 1 p.m.

Haywood, 66, played 13 years of pro basketball including five for Seattle, where he made four of his five All-Star appearances. Suiting up for the Sonics from 1970 through ’75, the power forward averaged 24.9 points and 12.1 rebounds per game during his time in Seattle.

The Sonics retired his No. 24 jersey in 2007, 24 years after his retirement from pro basketball and one year before the team moved to Oklahoma City. In September, he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

Yet Haywood may be even better remembered for the controversy he stirred up in 1970, when the Sonics signed Haywood before he was, as the NBA mandated, four years removed from high school.

Haywood had played two years of college ball at the University of Detroit before he jumped to the ABA’s Denver Rockets, where he led the league in scoring and rebounding in 1969-70. Following that first pro season, Sonics owner Sam Schulman signed Haywood to a six-year, $1.5 million contract despite the NBA’s eligibility rules.

Sonics legend Spencer Haywood waves a rally towel above CenturyLink Field after raising the 12th Man flag before Sunday’s game against the Steelers. (John Lok / The Seattle Times)
Sonics legend Spencer Haywood waves a rally towel above CenturyLink Field after raising the 12th Man flag before Sunday’s game against the Steelers. (John Lok / The Seattle Times)

When the NBA threatened to kill the contract and fine the Sonics, Haywood challenged the NBA with an antitrust lawsuit. After a federal court issued an injunction in Haywood’s favor, the NBA settled with him and allowed him to play for Seattle, thereby changing the future of NBA eligibility rules.

Haywood is in Seattle this week in part to promote a new documentary about him titled, “Full Court: The Spencer Haywood Story.” The film, produced by Seattle’s Dwayne Clark of True Productions, tells the story of how Haywood overcame poverty in the racially charged South and became a star in the ABA, NBA and Olympics. The documentary will premiere at the Seattle International Film Festival in May.

Haywood also raised the 12th Man flag before Sunday’s Seahawks game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, which Seattle won 39-30.