This Sonics team was especially remarkable because it boasted no single superstar. Coach Lenny Wilkens would eventually become the NBA's all-time winningest coach; guard Dennis Johnson went on to greater accolades with the Boston Celtics; and center Jack Sikma was an All-Star, but there was no Magic Johnson/Michael Jordan-type player on the team. Known for stingy defense and excellent outside shooting, this team was clearly greater than the sum of its parts.
Winning the trophy capped a stellar year for the Supes. Wilkens continued to work his sideline magic, while a well-balanced scoring attack, led by Williams’ 19.2 points per game, kept opponents off balance. Adding to the Sonics’ strength was their league-best defense, thanks to Williams’ 2.08 steals per contest and Sikma’s stellar rebounding. Seattle rolled to its first 50-win season (52-30) in franchise history and its first Pacific Division title.
Once in the postseason, Seattle made relatively quick work of the Lakers in the conference semifinals, beating them four games to one. The SuperSonics then faced the Phoenix Suns in the conference finals, clinching a return to the Finals with a 114-110 triumph in Game 7.