Monday, May 2

The Big Three

Former Seattle Supersonics guard Dale Ellis
Who wears short-shorts? Dale did!

After Ray Allen tied the Sonics’ all-time playoff scoring record with 45 points in last night’s win over Sacramento, several newspapers listed the other top playoff performances in Sonics history. In case you missed it, they were:

#1 May 1, 2005 - Ray Allen - 45
#1 April 15, 1976 - Fred Brown - 45
#2 April 28, 1987 - Dale Ellis - 43
#3 May 23, 1987 - Xavier McDaniel - 42
#4 May 14, 1987 - Tom Chambers - 38
#5 April 18, 1979 - Gus Williams - 38

(courtesy of Wayne)
Now, look at numbers two, three, and four: same season, three different players going for 35+ points in a game. Has that ever happened for ANY team EVER? Doubt it. That's why I love the 1987 team more than any other (yes, even more than the 1979 World Champs). The Big Three: Dale Ellis, Xavier McDaniel, and Tom Chambers (who won the All-Star Game MVP that year… in Seattle… as a RESERVE!), along with rookie (!) Nate McMillan and shot-blocker Alton Lister, made up the starting five. The bench consisted of several tough journeymen role players like Clem Johnson, Kevin Johnson, and former all-star Maurice Lucas.

Like this year’s squad, no one thought much of the 1987 Supersonics. They only won 39 games and barely squeaked into the playoffs. After getting blown out by the Mavericks 151-129 in game one, most of the media (including Steve Kelly, I vividly recall) counted the Sonics out. In the next game, however, Dale Ellis scored 43 points to exact sweet revenge against the team that dumped him (sound familiar?) and the Sonics won the next two games to win the best of five series.

The next round was against Houston Rockets and the original Twin Towers: Ralph Sampson (before his knees disintegrated) and Hakeem Olajuwon. This series will be forever remembered for game six, a double OT thriller that the Sonics won despite Olajuwon’s 49 points and 25 rebounds. Tom Chambers scored his 38 somewhere in this series, but all I can remember is Olajuwon going off for 49 and 25 – that’s just filthy.

And X-man’s 42, you ask? That came against the Lakers in one of the most painful losses that I can remember: Game 4, 1987 Western Conference Finals. After upsetting Dallas and Houston in the first two rounds of the playoffs, the Sonics were down 3-0 against the Magic/Kareem/Worthy Lakers. All appeared lost going into game four in Seattle, but, once again, the Sonics shocked everyone by sprinting out to a 20 point lead in the first half, punctuated by one of the greatest breakaway dunks of all-time by the X-man to close the half. Yes, the Sonics were surely going to upset the great Lakers and win the rest of the series, just like against Dallas and Houston. Right? RIGHT?!

The Lakers came out in the second half and calmly tore into the Supes like a giant tearing machine, leaving Sonics fans across the northwest feeling like they just got kicked in the nuts.

So will the 2005 playoff run end in joyous celebration (1979) or beer-filled depression (1993, 1994)? It’s too soon to tell, but either way, I’ll be wearing my cup.

1 comment:

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