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SuperSonics win NBA Championship on June 1, 1979.

HistoryLink.org Essay 3061 : Printer-Friendly Format

On June 1, 1979, the Seattle SuperSonics beat the Washington Bullets 97-93 in Washington, D.C., to win the team's first (and only) National Basketball Association Championship. Guard Gus Williams scores 23 points in the decisive contest while center Jack Sikma grabs 17 rebounds. The win gives Seattle a 4-1 series victory and avenges the SuperSonics’ loss to the Bullets in the 1977-1978 NBA Finals.

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.

SuperSonics website accessed March 2001 (www.supersonics.com); Seattle SuperSonics 1999-2000 Media Guide ed. by Marc Moquin (Seattle: Full House Sports & Entertainment, 1999); The Sporting News Official NBA Register, 1998-99 edition, ed. by Mark Bonavita, Mark Broussard, and Brendan Roberts (St. Louis: The Sporting News, 1998); The Sporting News Official NBA Guide, 1998-99 edition, ed. by Mark Broussard and Craig Carter (St. Louis: The Sporting News, 1998).
Note: This essay was revised and updated on February 23, 2012.

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1979 NBA championship winners, Seattle SuperSonics
Courtesy Seattle SuperSonics

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