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Seattle Supersonics playing the Portland Trail Blazers circa 1978, the year before they won the NBA Championship. Photo: Seattle Municipal Archives.

Seattle Supersonics playing the Portland Trail Blazers circa 1978, the year before they won the NBA Championship. Photo: Seattle Municipal Archives.


This NOT Just In: Seattle Supersonics World Championship

Feliks Banel

The Supersonics might have left Seattle, but 33 years ago, they were riding high. We look back at their NBA World Championship.


In 2008, Seattle Supersonics fans were bitter. After 41 seasons, the NBA team was gone. New owner Clay Bennett took it to Oklahoma City and changed the name to The Thunder.

KJR Sports Radio host "Softy" blamed then–mayor Greg Nickels.

Softy: "Why so much of a lack of interest in attending Sonics games in the last 10 years on your part, how do you respond to that?"

Mayor Nickels: "First Softy, in all due respect, I would call it a really cheap shot. Second, I would say that in the last 10 years this has not been a very fun team to watch."

Mayor Nickels was right. The Sonics hadn't been very much fun to watch for a long time. In fact, to find real thrills, you had to go back to Friday, June 1, 1979.

That night, two games were underway at the same time. At the Kingdome in Seattle, the Mariners were part way through another lackluster baseball season. Their opponent this time? Expansion–team rivals, the Toronto Blue Jays. Five thousand ambivalent fans looked on.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, the Sonics were playing perhaps the most exciting game in the history of the team — for the NBA World Championship.

Sound: CBS TV coverage of Game 5.

Seattle was up, three games to one, against the Washington Bullets in Landover, Maryland. It was a close game. As the fourth quarter wound down, "Voice of the Sonics" Bob Blackburn brought home all the action.

Blackburn: "Gus around his man inside. Dishes out to DJ from ten. DJ fires — it's good. Dennis Johnson.

It'd been an amazing season. The Sonics beat the L.A. Lakers and the Phoenix Suns in the playoffs, and radios blared with the team's unofficial theme song.

Music: "Go, go, go, go Super Sonics! Go, go, go, go Super Sonics!"

Back at the Kingdome that evening, the Mariners scored a few runs against Toronto. That season, Seattle was battling Oakland for last place in the American League West.

At Game 5 in Landover, it all came down to the final seconds.

Blackburn: "On the inbound's pass, fires in. Ballard — long one, top of the key. No good. Rebound, John Johnson. Sonics have it. Seven seconds. Six."

In the Kingdome, they actually halted the baseball game. Everyone, even the players on the field, stopped what they were doing and looked up at the big screen to watch the Sonics.

Blackburn: "Five, four, pass to Gus Williams, three, two, one, and the Supersonics win their first ever NBA Championship. The ball sails high in the air."

Sonics fans everywhere cheered the victory.

Blackburn: "The Sonics are ecstatic. The horns are honking around the Pacific Northwest."

But for Mariner fans, there were still a few more innings to go. The home team scored a couple more runs and beat the Blue Jays 7 to 2.

Meanwhile, right outside the Dome, Pioneer Square filled with revelers as a big celebration got underway. The next day, the Sonics came home to a hero's welcome at Sea–Tac, and then a parade downtown that drew 300,000 fans. NBA officials gave the team a golden trophy and the mayor read a proclamation.

Charles Royer: "Therefore I, Charles Royer, mayor of the city, etcetera, do hereby proclaim Monday, June 4 as Sonics' Day in Seattle . . ."

But the Sonics' days are done and so is the Kingdome. About the only things left from 1979 are the Mariners — still struggling — and that golden NBA trophy — currently in storage at the Museum of History & Industry.

I'm Feliks Banel for This NOT Just In.

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