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  • Writer's pictureKurtis Tatkenhorst

June 1- The Seattle Supersonics won their only NBA Championship in 1979

On this day in Sports History, the Seattle Supersonics won the 1979 NBA Championship. They beat the Washington Bullets (now called the Washington Wizards) in Game 5 to win the series 4-1. After dropping the first game of the series, the Sonics won the next four games to win the NBA Championship. Game 5, which was in Washington D.C., started out with the Sonics down 30-19 in the first quarter. They slowly would decrease that lead over the next two quarters and went into the fourth quarter down by just three points. The Sonics would then outscore the Bullets 31-24 in the fourth quarter and win the game 97-93. The Sonics were led by Gus Williams who scored 23 points and Dennis Johnson who had 21. Johnson would be named the NBA Finals MVP. The Game 5 win clinched the series and gave Seattle their first ever and only NBA Championship in their history.

The 1979 NBA season started with the Sonics having some extra motivation from the previous year. The same two teams faced off the year before in the 1978 NBA Finals in a series that went seven games. The Bullets won Game 7 105-99 in Seattle to win the series. The heartbreaking loss sent the Sonic’s players into the 1979 season with the extra motivation. The Sonics were a great team even though they did not have a superstar on the team. They did not have a player voted on the first or second All-NBA team. Instead, they relied on their defense as they allowed only 103.3 points a game which was first in the league. By relying on their defense and each player playing their roles, they ended the regular season with the second best record at 52-30. They started the playoffs by beating Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and the Los Angeles Lakers. They then faced the Phoenix Suns in the Western Conference Finals. Seattle won the first two games of the series, but then lost the next three games. Seattle then won two close elimination games to get back into the NBA Finals.

In Game 1 of the NBA Finals, Seattle found themselves down 18 points in the 2nd half. They fought back to tie the score but would end up losing the game 99-97. Seattle’s coach said he knew they would win the series after coming back to tie the game after being down 18 points. He was right as Seattle won every game after that to win the series. The closest the Bullets came was in Game 4 when the game went to overtime. The Sonics still prevailed and won the game 114-112.

The Supersonics won their only NBA Championship on this day in 1979. They made it back to the NBA Finals in 1996 but fell to Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. In 2008, the team announced they were relocating to Oklahoma City and would become the Thunder. The 1979 NBA Championship was Seattle’s only modern era championship until the Seattle Storm won the WNBA Championship in 2004. The Seattle Seahawks won their only Super Bowl in 2013.

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Allen, Percy. “40 Years Ago, an Unheralded Group of Sonics Brought Seattle Its Only NBA Title. Here's How They Did It.” The Seattle Times, The Seattle Times Company, 1 June 2019

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