Today in sports history, Seattle was awarded their first major league sports franchise. They dubbed the newest NBA team the SuperSonics and a new franchise was born. While the team would later be sold and moved to Oklahoma City in 2008, the impact of the SuperSonics remains to this day.
Inception of the Seattle SuperSonics | Today in Sports History
The SuperSonics had quite the run in the late 1970’s. From 1978-80, Seattle made three straight Western Conference Championships. In two of those seasons, Seattle made it to the NBA Finals. In the 1978 NBA Finals, they held a 3-2 series lead before losing in seven games to the Washington Bullets.
The next year, the SuperSonics beat Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and the Los Angeles Lakers in five games, then they knocked off the Phoenix Suns in seven games before being matched up against the Bullets again. This time, Seattle claimed their first title by way of a 4-1 gentleman’s sweep.
In the 1980 season, which would prove to be the last of their mini dynasty, Seattle made it to the Western Conference Finals again. Seattle was again matched up with the Los Angeles Lakers. This time, Seattle lost to the Lakers in five games. It ended up being the last time their star-studded backcourt of Gus Williams and Dennis Johnson ever played together.
Relocation to Oklahoma City
From 1998 to 2008, the SuperSonics had just one Western Conference Semifinals appearance to their name, coming in 2005. That would be the last time the SuperSonics made the playoffs. Although Seattle was able to get Kevin Durant with the second pick in the 2007 NBA Draft, the writing was already on the wall for the franchise.
Washington state government officials and the then owners of the SuperSonics were at odds. Officials refused to provide funding to update their stadium (KeyArena), so the Basketball Club of Seattle LLP, led by Howard Schultz, was sold for $350 million, including the WNBA team Seattle Storm.
The team was sold to Professional Basketball Club LLC, which was an investment group led by Clay Bennett — an Oklahoma City businessman. While Schultz thought that the new owners would keep the team in Seattle, they did not and instead elected to move the team to Oklahoma City and become the current Oklahoma City Thunder.
While attempts were made to get the deal nixed and move the team back to Seattle, all avenues failed. To this day, Seattle is still without an NBA franchise.