The Sonics left Seattle 13 years ago, however a handful of players who became stars while wearing the franchise’s green and gold – and a few others loosely associated with the franchise – have been named among the 75 greatest NBA players of all time.
Former Sonics Lenny Wilkens, Gary Payton, Ray Allen and Kevin Durant were voted to the NBA’s 75th Anniversary team, which actually included 76 players because of a tie on the ballot.
Wilkens, a nine-time All-Star and three-time Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame inductee, played four seasons (1968-72) in Seattle during a 15-year career as a point guard.
Wilkens, who has coached more games (2,487) than anyone in NBA history, led the Sonics to its only league championship in 1979.
Payton, who is widely considered the greatest player in Sonic history, was Seattle’s No. 2 overall NBA draft pick out of Oregon State in 1990.
The brash, trash-talking point guard nicknamed “The Glove” was a nine-time All-Star, nine-time All-NBA selection, nine-time All-Defensive Team selection and the 1995-96 Defensive Player of the Year during his 12½ seasons (1990-2003) in Seattle, which included a trip to the 1996 NBA Finals.
During his tenure with the Sonics, Payton was a nine-time All-Star, nine-time All-NBA selection, nine-time All-Defensive Team selection and the 1995-96 Defensive Player of the Year.
Allen began his 18-year career with the Milwaukee Bucks and won NBA championships with the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat in 2008 and 2013 respectively.
However, the smooth-shooting 10-time All-Star guard played some of his best basketball during his 4½ seasons (2003-07) with the Sonics. Allen notched the four-highest scoring seasons of his career while playing in Seattle, including a personal best 24.6 points per game during the 2006-07 season.
Durant played just one season (2007-08) with the Sonics before the franchise relocated to Oklahoma City and changed its name to the Thunder. During his brief Seattle tenure, the No. 2 overall draft pick in 2007 thrilled Sonic fans while averaging 20.3 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.4 assists before claiming the league’s Rookie of the Year award in 2008.
The NBA’s 75th Anniversary team also included NBA greats Bill Russell and Patrick Ewing who both spent time with the Sonics.
Russell, an 11-time NBA champion and five-time MVP with the Boston Celtics, coached four years (1973-77) in Seattle and twice led the Sonics to the playoffs.
Following a 15-year legendary tenure with New York Knicks, Ewing played had mostly forgettable one-year stints with the Sonics (2000-01) and Orlando Magic (2001-02) before retiring.
Scottie Pippen and Russell Westbrook, two other members of the NBA’s 75th Anniversary team, began their careers with the Sonics but never played for the franchise in Seattle.
The Sonics took Pippen fifth in the 1987 NBA draft and traded him to the Chicago Bulls for Olden Polynice and future draft considerations. Meanwhile, Seattle selected Westbrook No. 4 overall in the 2008 NBA draft just six days before the franchise moved.
The 75th anniversary team was selected by a panel of media and current and former players, coaches, general managers and team executives.
Among the quartet of players with strong Sonic ties only Wilkens was included when the league announced its 50th Anniversary team 25 years ago.