Forty years ago Saturday, Gus Williams heaved the basketball into the air, the clock inside the Capital Centre in Landover, Md., ticked down to triple zeros, and the SuperSonics beat the Washington Bullets in Game 5 of the 1979 NBA finals. They had delivered Seattle its first major professional sports championship since the Metropolitans’ 1917 Stanley Cup, and its last until the Seahawks in 2014.
To celebrate the anniversary, we’re playing a game. Think that ’79 squad was Seattle’s greatest? How about the Shawn Kemp and Gary Payton-led Sonics of the mid-90s? Now you combine them — along with other Sonics legends — to create your own dream team. The catch? You only have $15.
None of our staff picked the same team. Scroll down to see their squads, then continue to the comments to add your dream team (and defend your picks).
- You may not exceed $15.
- You need to create a starting five.
- Each player only counts for what he did in a Sonics uniform (e.g. Kevin Durant is only 19-year-old Kevin Durant).
* Click/tap to select a player
* Compare stats by expanding the “stats” button
* Start over by hitting the “reset” button
Here’s who our staff chose:
Percy Allen, sports reporter
This lineup was a no-brainer considering Payton and Kemp comprised the greatest tandem in Sonics history. Dennis Johnson, an All-Star with the Sonics and the 1979 Finals MVP, is a lockdown defender on par with Payton. Kevin Durant is a bargain at this price due to the fact he averaged 20 points as a Sonics rookie. And Marvin Webster had his most productive season during his one year in Seattle while averaging 14.0 points, 12.6 rebounds and 2.0 blocks in 1977-78. Plus, you gotta love the nicknames on this squad: The Glove, The Reign Man, The Human Eraser, DJ and KD. Give me Lenny Wilkens or George Karl to coach and we’re winning three straight NBA titles in any era.
Bob Condotta, sports reporter
One thing I like about this team is that it represents many of the key eras of Sonics history. One thing I might not like is the relative lack of outside shooting — it was hard to pass up Ray Allen, Dale Ellis and Fred Brown. But Schrempf gives us a lot of it in a style that was somewhat unconventional at the time but foreshadowed the game as we know it now. And Haywood was able to score at will down low during his best Sonics days. And this team will also play such good defense that it might not matter. A Payton-Johnson backcourt in its prime would be as good defensively as any in NBA history and then there’s the Human Eraser to clean up anything that somehow gets past them.
Paul Barrett, sports editor
Kemp, Payton and Schrempf were the top three scorers from the team that held its own against Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls in the 1996 NBA Finals. Pierce was close to a 50-40-90 player (50% from the field, 40% from three-point range and 90% on free throws) in the 1990-91 and ’92-93 seasons. Webster, nicknamed the Human Eraser, averaged two blocks, 12.6 rebounds and 14 points per game in his lone season with the Sonics.
Sean Quinton, assistant sports editor
This is a title team — no doubt. I found great value in grabbing Slick Watts with a buck. Dennis Johnson and a 19-year-old Kevin Durant for $2 each was also a steal. But the big money goes to the big fellas. Jack Sikma’s pure jumper and Shawn Kemp’s brute force make for a fierce duo down low. With Watts dishing to playmakers like KD and DJ, Sikma shooting mid-range jumpers and Kemp rattling the rim with poster jams, this team is almost impossible to top.
The opinions expressed in reader comments are those of the author only and do not reflect the opinions of The Seattle Times.