Thursday, December 21

Ghosts of Supersonics Past

Your 1979 World Champion Seattle Supersonics
Does the slow death-watch of our beloved Sonics make you yearn for the glory years? Well, our pal Eric Neel of ESPN is working on a piece about the Sonics 40th Anniversary (remember that?) and he wants to know what YOUR favorite Supersonics memories are. Here are the specific questions he sent to me:
  • What do the Sonics mean to you?
  • What would you do if they left town -- how would you cope?
  • What are your favorite memories over the years?
  • Who do you blame for the position they're in now?
  • How worried are you?
Leave your answers in the comments and I will make sure E-Neel gets them. My favorite Sonics memory? How about that 1987 Playoff run?

UPDATE: Thanks for all the fantastic memories &mdash keep 'em coming! But please leave your name so Eric can credit you on ESPN.com. Thanks!

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

40th anniversary as year long set of events is too long to me. But I got here after 79 and dont identify with that group. After January 1 it should all be about the future.

"Who do you blame for the position they're in now?" One answer would be everyone in management and ownership for not recognizing Nate was feeling alienated and unhappy, probably about not having enough input on players. He had some but I dont think he wanted to tie the franchise future to Luke Ridnour in particular.

He isnt proven a great coach but he did
provide some toughness and seemed to get more D out of them than since.

Anonymous said...

Here are my 10 favorite things about the Sonics. I hope they keep me warm when the coldness of an NBA-free city invades my life:

1. Sam Perkins nailing 3's with reckless abandon in the playoffs

2. Beating the Mavericks as Dale Ellis got his pound of flesh

3. X choking the life out of Wes Matthews

4. Shawn's dunk on Lister

5. Chambers going from not making the All-Start team to being named MVP in the span of 72 hours

6. Listening to Bob Blackburn on my clock radio

7. Desmond Mason and Terrence Stansbury

8. Gary Payton's scowl and the way he tilted his head to the side when he trash talked

9. Gus Williams - my first sports hero

10. Beating the Jazz in the playoffs to make the Finals - nothing finer than seeing the Mailman and Stockton walk home with nothing to show for it.

theSHEEDabides said...

Thanks for mentioning DMas--it broke his heart (and mine) to leave Seattle. I know he hasn't been stellar since leaving but I can't help but think things would have been different for him if he stayed. Worried about the future? Big time.

Anonymous said...

The scouting department has hit some homeruns and it always going to be hit and miss but they have seemed to exhibit on over-emphasis on finding players others dont know about and betting on developing potential (and teaching defense from the ground up) and skipping past a long list of pretty proven college talent over the last 10 years, including more good 2 way offense/defense players. Their overall record may be better than most but it theoretically could have so much better if there had been fewer longshot didnt pan outs and more complete players picked.

Payroll has been in bottom 5-10 for over a decade. Midlevel exceptions werent used well on a few big men early and then they got in the habit of splitting it or not using it at all.

Good isnt realy enough. You have to be better and that is a daunting task in the west right now. Spending lots of money isnt an easy, sure answer but there have been many occasions where one more player or one better player could have paid good dividends.

frank said...

1. The only sport I care for.
2. Gutted - I can only root for my home team. The Blazers just ain't gonna cut it.
3. Anything Kemp, Payton & Smooth - esp. the Bulls finals.
4. Wally/Rick/Howard
5. Very, very, very. very...

Anonymous said...

Management told us they were "10 deep" this summer and that 'gave us the luxury to make a pick like Sene" and in essence justified not making any new acquisitions in free agent market.

Wrong. Sonics bench is rated by NBA efficiency at hoopsstats as the 3rd weakest in the league. The bigs as a group and the defense (much dependent on bigs to try to contain perimeter slippage from all offensive biased starters) are also very low rated. Again.

Last year was not taken to heart but considered an aberraton or merely a growing pain they were confident that guys were past. They aren't really. It is a multiyear process at best. Losing Swift hurt but the talk was too confident for the situation.

They should have gone harder for a veteran big at least like a Francisco Elson or better. A rookie more ready to contribute or trading the pick for a veteran might have helped now. In the "most important year of the franchise".

If you look at teams regularly in the playoffs they mainly use bigs 27 years old or older. 1-2 out of the set of 6 or more maybe young but they will usually be guys that play like veterans. Sonics went into season with 5 of 6 bigs 25 or under and the only older guy was real sketchy whether he'd contribute much. That is hard to accept as being very wise unless it is really all about the future 2 or more years away.

The ambiguity about whether it is really win now with 100% efforts focused to achieve that or mainly win later has hurt management's relationship with hardcore fans. Everybody wants to build for the future and be optimisitic about the present but things don't seem lined up right and they seem to be doing each halfway. Whether Allen at 18-20 million a year for his last 2 years under contract fits with the youth matured by then remains to be seen. Allen in Seattle (with Lewis and Ridnour)looks like it is headed for 1 playoff in 5 seasons. Is change still just around the corner?

When do you say it isnt working? Now? sometime next season? Summer 2008? Later than that? Playoff chances may get settle for certain within 2 weeks. If they are, play the young guys heavy, get a good draft pick, actively explore trades with an open mind. I don't any piece should be considered 100% locked in. Several nice players might need to go to get a better mix.

Anonymous said...

Currently I think the Sonics' main problems are the C position and the coaching staff. Allen and Lewis combine for the 3rd best scoring duo in the league with around 50 points a night. So that part seems to be working. Ridnour is definitely not as good as he's hyped up to be, but he's not bad either. A lot of teams are getting better results with worse PGs, which leads me to think the problem lies somewhere else.

Bob Hill and his coaching staff got nothing on Bob Weis and his team. I can't persuade myself to say that move was an upgrade. After Nate left (thanks to those who only saw the Sonics as an investment) we should've picked up a solid coach. If I recall correctly there were some good coaches available at the end of that season, namely George Karl. But no we had to hire no-name coaches noone had heard of.

The choices are simple. Lenny's in the organization and has indirectly hinted that he would be willing to take the coaching position. Fire Hill, make Lenny the head coach, and get a center who is familiar with playing basketball at some level. And stop wasting your draft picks on shitty-ass "potential" players.

Anonymous said...

The plan was to win with a top rated offense and try to get the defense tolerable- say 20th best. But the offense efficency is just 13th (down from 4th last year and 3rd the year before) and only one of the 4 factors is clearly above average (offensive rebounding) and it seems it will be hard to change the ranking back to top 5. They were at 20th on defense briefly but it is 26th again. Gordy has not helped the players to change eFG% allowed at all.

In 04-05 the Sonics played Nate's way which was slow relative pace. They had shooters, they protected the ball pretty well and they were great on offensive glass. They were good on defense but they were better on defensive glass and at limiting free thorws allowed.

Last season they talked about playing faster but it did not work. This season they started that way but werent great at it and seem to have been m, or oved by the opponent into a normal pace. Some the players were signed in large part because they were supposedly good fits for fast pace but if you dont play fast, you get their less strong side. If you can't dictate pace or win above .500 playing fast then it seems more like marketing hype.

Either Ridnour has to learn to force fast pace like Nash does, or substitute someone who can or rethink the whole thing.

Anonymous said...

Corrections:

turns out eFG% allowed has moved a little and is currently down 1% but still bottom 5 in league.
04-05 defense should say... they "werent" good on defense but...

ryan said...

The Sonics mean joy. Basketball is the only American sport that mirrors soccer's ability to bring joy to your life. Football and baseball bring joy, too, but in minute increments. Like someone once said of football, it's 10 minutes of fighting surrounded by 3 hours of committee meetings - that's not too joyful. Baseball, while fun, is too slow-paced to bring much joy (Luis Sojo's inside-the-park-home-run through JT Snow's legs notwithstanding).

The Sonics mean joy - Gary Payton, Shawn Kemp, yes, but even more guys like Nate, Brickowski, Stansbury, Vranes, Bernie Bickerstaff, just such great memories of such diverse personalities.

I'll put it to you this way - when you read the name Olden Polynice, doesn't a smile come to your face? Can't you just picture his great abilities, his horrible foul shooting, his dunking, the craziness, the terrible draft-day trade that gave us him and the Bulls Scottie Pippen? I know there's pain there, but there's joy as well.

That's what the Sonics mean to me.

Anonymous said...

I think Hill has worked hard and been mostly positive with players and I've generally been pleased with his effort (though not necessarily all the in game decisions of course). But so far he hasnt been a big impact coach. Are there any coaches that could pull this team out of 40% win territory? Maybe a few but I put the current results mainly on the players. Playcalling by the coach can help or hurt shooting % significantly but I think of turnovers, rebounds, and get and giving fouls as largely the result of the player's skills and effort.

I'd give Hill a little longer, probably the rest of the season. I don't think this is a team that would be easy to jumpstart and change much midstream, even by a Wilkens or Adelman or another veteran coach. I don't think a 1st time head coach would be a good idea under these circumstances either.

Anonymous said...

Favorite Sonics Memory: Seeing Gus, Fred Brown, DJ, Sikma, and all the guys in the parade after the Sonics won. I was 13 years old, and man, that may have been the best day a 13-year-old ever had. It was so long ago, I didn't even hate Wally Walker!

theSHEEDabides said...

Too young to see the parade, but thanks for that visual. Can't imagine a more impressionable experience for a 13 year old.

Anonymous said...

1. I've lived in Seattle a whole 6 months. I moved here from Detroit, home of a great basketball team. I didn't expect to become a Sonics fan, but I already love them. And hate them. And hate to love them, and love to hate them.

2. If they leave town, I may have to move to Portland or Denver. I can't imagine not having a local team to cheer for.

3. My favorite memories over the years (this season) is watching Earl Watson play his heart out while Ray is gone. I also like Wilcox and Gelebale (sp?)

4. The city of Seattle with their refferendum. No getting past that. This city is not willing to pay an extra tax on rental cars and other on essentials in order to keep a basketball team. But it's not even that. It's the fact that when I talk to people, they don't even know the names of the players. "Oh, the Sonics. They suck, right?"

5. I can't believe how dissapointed I am that they are leaving. Let's face it, they ARE leaving.

Anonymous said...

Beating Houston in the playoffs with Hakeem in 93 was one of the best memories

Paul Merrill said...

Great stories, guys! But please--LEAVE YOUR NAME! Eric wants to use these on ESPN.com and I'm sure you don't want your cherished childhood memory credited to "anonymous".

Either write your name at the bottom of your post or even better &mdash sign up for a free Blogger account. It only takes a few seconds and it comes with a free Gmail account now (woo-hoo) and you can have a cool icon next to your post (like my weirdo walrus man pic).

jason thomas said...

I'm the guy who saw the parade - sorry about the anonymous posting, just my laziness.

Great site by the way; it'll be a shame if the Sonics do leave and I'm forced to read a Blazer blog.

Nuss said...

Favorite Memory: I should really write this up into a story, but for the time being, here goes ...

My favorite memory of the Sonics came in the spring of 1991. I was in my freshman year at the University of Oregon in Carson Hall (it's the same dorm shown at the beginning of Animal House). Naturally, my building was filled with Blazermaniacs, and considering the Blazers finished the season 63-19 it wasn't a good time to be a Sonic fan in Oregon. Naturally, the Sonics matched up against the Blazers in the playoffs in a death match for the ages.

It was Pete against the world - everybody I knew was rooting for Drexler, Fat Duckworth, Bullet Head Porter, Mercy Mercy Jerome Kersey, and all the other guys I hated, while I was rooting for Kemp, Eddie Johnson, McKey, Nate, and surprise late-season acquisition Benoit Benjamin.

The Sonics went down 2-0 on the road and things looked bleak. But somehwere on I-5 between Portland and Seattle - perhaps in Fife, perhaps in Olympia - Benoit decided he was going to turn the clock back to the days when he actually gave a damn. For the next three days Benoit was a force, leading the Sonics in first one win and then another as Seattle tied the series at 2, forcing a game 5 and forcing all the doubters in Carson Hall to listen to me blare Pearl Jam's "Alive" over and over again.

Alas, like all Seattle sports memories, it ended in defeat: the Blazers won game 5, Benoit never managed to hold onto the magic, and I was forced to endure another few years of Blazermania before moving to California and then Vancouver. Still and all, it was a great time to be a Sonic fan and a great reminder of the role sports can play in our lives.

Paul Merrill said...

Thanks for the comments Jason -- and just for the record, this will NEVER be a Blazers blog (or an OK Sonics blog for that matter). Supersonicsoul will ALWAYS be a Seattle Supersonics site, even if the team is no longer here.

AK1984 said...

The 43-44 season of 1990-1991 was a motherfuckin' bitch!

Benoit Benjamin, Eddie Johnson, and Ricky Pierce made a difference, however. Without them, the 'sonics wouldn't have made the playoffs that season.

That, by the way, was the same season that Michael Jordan destroyed the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals.

"What a spectacular move, by Michael Jordan!"

I, too, love women's thongs.

Lance Uppercut said...

That's a great UO story Pete. Reminds me of a Blazer/Laker game that the Blazers lost (natch). Long story short, I broke a 40 oz. of Pabst against one of my roommates heads. Good times.

Paul Merrill said...

It's amazing how loyal Pete has been to the Supes despite the fact that he hasn't been a Washington State resident in 15 years. That's dedication, folks!

(great story BTW)

Brian Chain said...

I started watching them in the fall of 04 (and still watch them, I'm a true fan of the team even when they're losing/leaving). Now after they've left, it might be a different question.

1. Damien Wilkins coming out for 21 (career high at the time, I think) against the Blazers, Sonics winning the I-5 rivalry. Blazers sucked that year but for some reason they brought their A game with them. Seem to remember that Ray was injured and Damien just came in and kept us in the game, hitting shots...

2. Despite how crappy our record is (and will be, I'm a realist) this season, I still want to applaud every time I see Luke knock down that one-handed floater in the lane...never had that in his game last year...great to see payback for his hard work.

3. Ray Allen hitting the three at the end of the triple OT game vs. Phoenix last February...Sonics win...151-149 if I remember right? Was a great game but never got press like the 20T of PHX vs NJN did this year...I was probably loud enough to wake up the neighbors celebrating that shot...

4. The 04-05 season, stealing wins away at the last minute, just hanging back 2 or 3 points, then sticking the dagger in right at the end...that team knew that games can only be won in the fourth...

I'd love to see stats showing how many games (decided by 3 or less) that they won vs. lost that season. Made for great entertainment, and it seemed like they didn't let us down much.

5. The earl going horizontal, 6' in the air, while going after that jump ball a couple games ago. Actually, it's not the jump that I'll remember. It's the sound of him landing. Gotta give the guy credit for trying.

Don't know what I'll do if the team leaves...I could buy league pass but there are few other teams that I could really root for...blazers are no substitute, can't really explain it but they aren't. I won't watch the team in OKC either...it just wouldn't be the same.

I'm gonna go with saying that they stay, because they have to, or I don't know what I'll do. In another twenty years I want to be able to talk about the most recent team as well as the "Ray Allen" team, just like I read all you guys talking about Payton, Kemp, Nate, Wilkens, etc.

Here's hoping they stay!

Carl said...

I don't know if anyone is reading this thread anymore, but I had to chime in. My favorite memory was going to all of the home playoff games 2 years ago, and sitting in the very top row of the stands. My friends and I were pounding so hard on the walls that we knocked holes in the plaster. Good times. I've watched the Supes for years but never got the chance to go to any playoff games. The idea that Seattle doesn't support the Sonics is bunk to anyone who was at any of those games.

Carl Schroeder

Anonymous said...

I went to two games of the playoff series with the Spurs two years ago, saw one win and one loss. My favorite memory was in the 4th quarter of the last game, the loss, with about 3 minutes left in a tight game, hearing the back and forth chant of "SU-PER, SON-ICS" getting louder and louder until it completely drowned out the stuff coming out of the sound system that was supposed to get us all revved-up. As if we weren't already. It was eerie, but a great memory

Nate said...

This makes me sad.

I went to game three of the Western Conference finals of the 87 playoff run and stood at the top as the Lakers beat them down.

I also love memories of beating the Rockets seemingly every year in the playoffs. I can't help but think the Rockets would not have won those titles without Sonic first round disasters. I will never forgive Robert Horry for kicking Kloppy.

I have never been in an arena as excited as the 90's Sonics when Kemp was on a fast break. Even Perkins cocking a 3 was a thrill.

I loved watching McMillan on those teams as well. He was always good for scrappy defense and even developed an outside shot.

I really enjoyed listening to my mom complain about Askew, too, for some reason.

Kevin Colabro.

Nate Chipps