Seattle SuperSonics Franchise History
The Sonics lost their first game, 144-116, to San Francisco. They got a win in their third game, against fellow expansion team San Diego. After that first victory the Sonics lost 12 of their next 13 contests and finished the season with a 23-59 record. In other words, it was a typical expansion season.
Defensively, the team had some rough outings. On December 20, Philadelphia riddled the Sonics for 160 points. Seattle yielded 150 or more points on four other occasions, and opponents averaged 125.1 points per game for the season. Though the early years were rough, the Sonics would reach the upper echelon of the league during two different decades. They reached the NBA Finals in two consecutive seasons, winning the crown in 1978-79 with an efficient team of interchangeable players led by Jack Sikma, Fred Brown, Dennis Johnson and Gus Williams and coached by the undemonstrative Lenny Wilkens.
After an up-and-down decade in the 1980s, Seattle was resurgent in the 1990s. Once again the team featured an unconventional lineup, a deep rotation, and an innovative array of defensive schemes. The stars of these Sonics -- power forward Shawn Kemp, one of the most creative slam dunkers of his era, and brash point guard Gary Payton -- reflected the personality of their coach, the volatile and imaginative George Karl.
The Sonics reached the NBA Finals in 1996, but fell to the Chicago Bulls in six games. They were eliminated in seven games in the Western Conference semifinals a year later by the Houston Rockets and dispatched in five games by the Los Angeles Lakers in 1998, also in the conference semifinals.
It would be their last division championship until 2005, when Nate McMillan took a team that finished 37-45 the year before and turned them in a 52-win Northwest Division champion. That team, led by Ray Allen, set a franchise record with 26 road victories.