About the legendary Seattle Supersonics | NBA

Seattle is going through difficult times today. The city has become one of the centers of distribution of coronavirus in the United States. We decided to support the magnificent city. The best option would be to remember the great basketball team from Seattle. The story of the cult "Supersonic" in the material of Lux

Seattle Supersonics

On a perfectly smooth parquet, gleaming with black muscles, bathed in labor sweat, a shaved African American is rushing at a frantic speed. He removes several opponents on the move, but in front of him again grows a wall of players. He grabs the ball in his strong hands and sends it through half the court. Let the ball judge. The ball is faster than the player. The ball is faster than the opponent. He is not faster than just one basketball player who rushes lightning from the right wing of the attack. An athletic figure develops the speed with which distant galaxies share their light with us. The player springs from a floodlit basketball court, cuts the air with his inflated body, soars above the ring. And time stands still ... He grabs the ball in his right hand, takes it behind his back, and a tomahawk cuts a basket with a terrible rattle of an iron darling.

This is Gary Payton doing another mall up on Sean Kemp. The two main stars of the legendary “Seattle Supersonics” are back in shock. And they applaud the stadium. The audience is ready to get enough sleep on the floor, like peas. They are ecstatic. Payton and Kemp are doing the league again.

Seattle Supersonics match

In the 1995/96 season, the talkative point guard, who was able to grab the best league players in his tight grip, had no equal to the forward - basketball Apollo with the highest jump and amazing speed. Of course, around Payton and Kemp an amazing entourage has formed from an excellent coaching staff and excellent partners. But it was Payton and Kemp who became the engine of the Seattle miracle, the engine of success of one of the cutest and most memorable teams in history.

If at that time you didn’t fall in love with Seattle Supersonics, then you don’t have a heart ... In 2008, team owner Clay Bennett moved the team to Oklahoma City. Since then, the hearts of basketball fans have been drenched in blood.

The history of Supersonics began in 1967. Although, no, even in 1966. Then two businessmen from Los Angeles Sam Schulman and Eugene Kline, who at that time were the owners of the AFL club “San Diego Chargers”, decided to create an NBA team in Seattle. At that time, Seattle was a growing economic center in Washington State, praised by poets and writers from Ginzburg to Kerouac.

This is what Kerouac wrote about the beauties of Seattle and Washington State in The Dharma Tramps.

“ Pure green, with a seething stream, melted snow; above, the clouds of the Pacific Northwest pines shrouded in clouds, mountain peaks loomed even higher, also covered with clouds, through which no, no, and the sun peeped. The rapid stream of cleanliness at my feet was their work, the work of calm mountains. The sun sparkled on the rifts, stubborn snags clung to the shore. Birds scoured above the water in search of a secretly smiling fish, - occasionally, jumping out of the water and bending with a silver arch, the fish again dived into the depths, and the loophole where it slipped was hastily washed away with running water.

Seattle Supersonics player

A magical river country, the emptiness of golden eternity, the aromas of moss, bark, branches, clay, all this impression before the eyes, murmuring, boiling and at the same time calm and endless, tree-covered hills, dancing glare of the sun. I looked up, and the clouds seemed to me the faces of hermits.

Pine branches apparently liked to splash in the water. Trees on the peaks happily wrapped in gray fog. Sun-infused leaves fluttered in the northwest breeze and seemed to be born to rejoice.

The pristine snow on the horizon seemed warm and cozy. In all was poured some eternal detachment and responsiveness, above the truth, above the blue void of space. “You are my Buddha, how powerful is the patience of the mountains,” I said aloud and drank the wine. It was cool, but the sun was peeking out, and the stump on which I was sitting became a hot stove. And when I returned to the same stump on a moonlit night, the world was like a dream, a phantom, a bubble, a shadow, vanishing dew, a flash of lightning! ”

The owners tandem chose the name for the new team - “Supersonics” (Supersonic). The name honored the main employer of the district - the Boeing company, whose productive capacities were located in the city itself and its suburbs. A few years earlier, Boeing received a state order for the production of supersonic aircraft. The new team personified a new time in the history of the city, both sports and industrial.

The city immediately fell in love with its basketball team. True, success had to wait.
Until 1975, Seattle tried to gain its identity in the league. At this time, the team lit up the stars of Lenny Wilkens and Spencer Haywood, who helped her spend the first season with a positive indicator of wins / losses. Wilkens was even named the most valuable player in the match of all NBA stars in 1971, and Haywood got into the first All-NBA team for two years in a row (in the 72/73 season he gave statistics at 29.2 points + 12.9 rebounds).

Seattle Supersonics

Wilkens has been a team playing coach for three seasons. In Seattle, he was considered a real icon, the more painful was the departure of Lenny in Cleveland. Later, Lenny Wilkens will become one of the greatest coaches in the history of basketball, but we will talk about the continuation of his career. In the meantime, the unpopular decision of the leadership to say goodbye to the city’s favorite was quickly forgotten when the name of the new head coach of the team was announced. They became the great center of the NBA Bill Russell.

11-time NBA champion in the Boston Celtics, 5-time prize winner of the most valuable NBA player, Olympic champion in Melbourne in 1956, one of the greatest players in league history. Russell came to the “Sonics” with the mentality of the winner and did not recognize any other goals than winning the championship.

From the first season, Russell takes the team to the playoffs. He changes the genetic memory of the team itself, its code, but two years later it is suddenly changed to Bob Hopkins, and the “Sonics” again fall to the bottom of the standings. And then the team again rescues Lenny Wilkens.

In the very first season after the return of Wilkens, the team wins the Western Conference. “Supersonics” lead in the final series against the “Washington Bullets” with a score of 3-2, but inferior in the last two matches of the series. A year later, the teams meet again in the final, and this time, “Seattle” is stronger in the five-match series. The key to victory is the game of the backcourt of the team - Gus Williams and the Finals MVP Dennis Johnson, and besides this center Jack Sikma.

- Show people how to succeed and they will find their own ways to become better! - then will say Wilkens.

team becomes the flagship of American sports, simultaneously setting a seasonal attendance record, and receives the most expensive television contract in the history of basketball with a local cable channel.

In October 1983, Sam Schulman sells the team to local businessman Bill Ackerley. And from this moment, until 1989, for “Seattle” dark times begin. The once successful team again taps the bottom of the standings, but from there they often do not respond.

Everything changes in 1989. Or rather, draft 89.

The 1989 NBA draft took place on June 27 in New York at the Felt Forum. He is considered one of the worst drafts in NBA history. The reason for this was the failure of the first numbers - Purvis Ellison and Danny Ferry, who did not even achieve much success in the league. Nevertheless, a number of talented basketball players entered the league in this draft: Glen Rice (No. 4 of the draft), Sean Elliott (No. 3), Nick Anderson (No. 11), Dana Barros (No. 16), Tim Harduay (No. 14 ), Vlad Divac (No. 26), Cliff Robinson (No. 36), BJ Armstrong (No. 18), Muki Blaylock (No. 12). And, of course, under the 17th draft number of the Seattle Supersonics NBA, they chose heavy forward Sean Kemp.

At the initial stage, Kemp was remembered, first of all, as one of the first students who decided not to prolong the “happy university years” and immediately enter the adult world of the NBA.

Kemp, who was born in one of the cradles of American basketball in Indiana, wanted to try his hand at university at the end of his school years. For this, one of the best basketball programs was chosen - Kentucky.

Sean hardly passed the entrance exams, which, even if they were a simple formality for a talented athlete, nevertheless became a real test for Kemp.

- I heard people say that I can’t read, that I can’t write my own name. It was bitter to hear it. I wanted to prove that I’m not a fool. And not a dumbass. But I lacked primary education. Some criticize the modern testing system for allegedly discriminating against black people. But I had no problems with this. All honestly. The only person who was to blame for the fact that I failed was me! - recalls Kemp.

And yet, the forward became a student of one of the most serious and significant universities in the United States. Although this was already clear, with his basketball talents. However, student life did not last long. Kemp, as if a suicide himself climbed into the noose, he was eager to put his legs in an enameled basin, pour it with concrete, and toss in this magnificence to the bottom of the ocean.

The basketball player was accused of trying to lay the chain of his partner. And Kemp was kicked out of the team.

"Most importantly, Kemp wanted to know what he could get for his consent to play for Kentucky.” He did not say anything specific about money or cars. He just wanted something. He constantly kept repeating: “You are deceiving me, saying that you allegedly get nothing.” He was constantly waiting for a reward! - recalls the former player and assistant scout Rick Caloway.

As it turned out, Sean won the chain from his partner in cards. However, even though spoons were found, the sediment still remained.

After his resignation from Kentucky, Kemp decided to rest for a year, and then stand for election directly to the draft. Which he did, despite the offers to try himself in Europe.

As a result, he left 17th, and the fame of a bad guy was forever entrenched in him. And a year later, there was one more bad guy in Seattle.

Gary Payton grew up in one of the most criminal areas of Auckland - the American capital of murders. Dad Gary was a cool dude on the streets. Rumor has it that he was called "Severe" in the streets. Well, well, if you are called “harsh” in Auckland, then you have achieved a lot.

Gary was a talkative teenager. He almost never shut up, studied poorly and spent all his free time with the boys on the streets. They played basketball and dabbled in drugs.

“A drug dealer career awaits you!” - Mother told him in high school.

Payton was in full agreement with her mother. He completely scored his studies, dared teachers and peers, wore diamonds in his ears and a weighty gold chain around his neck, and his school team matches ended in bloody brawls and howling police sirens (should I say that he was the initiator of most fights).

Everything calmed down a bit when Gary was called to the University of Oregon. Although in one of the NCAA matches, the young rebel slammed gum directly into the forehead of a UCLA fan. I had to intervene, “Stern”, he gave his little son a real thrashing.

“If you have any other problems with him, just hit him on the head!” - recommended Payton Sr.

History is silent whether they used this advice in Oregon, but there were no more visible problems with Gary.

As a result, Seattle chose a promising point guard as the second common draft number. At this point, Sports Illustrated magazine recognized Gary Payton as the best student in American sports, and put his face on his cover.

The new era of Seattle Supersonics has begun!

The first years of the explosive tandem were not very successful. The team barely made it to 50 percent of wins / losses, and then the club management decided to change the head coach. The new boss of the Seattle gang was George Karl.

Karl never missed the stars. I played a little in the ABA and NBA. He spent six middle seasons in the leagues and in 1978 completed his career. And then his stellar career in basketball began - as a coach, he turned out to be much more serious than a player.

Carl alternately takes to the playoffs the mediocre squads of “Cleveland” and “Golden State”, and then leaves to conquer the European public, heading Real Madrid in 1988.

Finally, in 1992, George Carl returned to the United States to become a mentor to the daring and promising rebel gang in Seattle.

In 1991, the world of music changed forever after the Nirvana song Smells Like Teen Spirit roared throughout the universe. In the 90s, Seattle became the center of the universe - the most attractive and fashionable point in the world. The music bands Nirvana, Soundgarden, Alice In Chains and Pearl Jam have become a cult for teens around the world. The grunge style has become a cultural revolution: from rock concert venues to fashion catwalks, from cinematic art to the lifestyle of millions of people on both sides of the ocean. But besides Kurt Cobain and Chris Cornell in Seattle at that time there was a beautiful basketball. Payton, Kemp, Schrempf, Hawkins, Perkins, Macmillan, Wingate began to work real miracles under the leadership of George Karl.

In the 92/93 season, Sonic win 55 matches of the regular season, and later reach the final of the conference, where they lose the title of the strongest Western team to the Phoenix, but only in seven matches. From this moment it became clear to everyone that a new force had appeared in the league. Basketball of the 90s is generally unique with completely different, but incredibly strong teams. In “Phoenix” lit Barkley with Johnson, in “Houston” won the titles Hakim with Clyde, “Indiana” and “Knicks” fought almost equally for victory in the East (however, with the same success), “Utah” scared the rivals with a duet of Malone and Stockton, in “San Antonio” the star of David Robinson was burning brightly, and in “Orlando” the young “Diesel” was gaining momentum with the support of Penny Hardway. And they all played in the era of the great Michael Jordan and the iconic Chicago Bulls. It was an amazing time, magical.

But even in the midst of all this magnificent placer, Seattle was distinguished by anger, athleticism, beauty and intransigence. In the 93/94 season, “Supersonics” appear in the regular season even more powerful - 63 wins, but inferior to “Denver” in the first round. Thus, “Sonics” became the first team to concede a playoff series, being the first seeded conference team in a series against the eighth team. Moreover, in the same season, many considered the “Sonics” almost the main favorite of the championship. Michael Jordan played baseball, and this paved the way for the title. But the champion will be Houston. A year later, Michael will continue to wave the bat, and “Seattle” will fly out again in the first round, this time losing to the “Lakers”. Houston will become the champion again. The second year in a row.

And tomorrow, His Highness returned to the league. And it will be a “flash” - one of the greatest seasons in the history of the NBA. And the best season of “Seattle”.

"Seattle” pulled away, as if Ben Johnson under dope. The Bulls didn’t lag behind, including the former Michael, the one who now again went onto the basketball floor instead of the baseball field, the one that regained the great 23rd number, which he did not want to wear immediately after returning, so that not tarnish it with its unpreparedness for NBA games.

"Seattle” gives an almost perfect season, simultaneously setting a franchise record for the number of victories in the regular season - at the end of the season the team from Washington counted as many as 64, with 18 defeats. The phenomenal result. However, the “Bulls” in the same season give a record 72-10.

It was clear that if Seattle this time did not go wrong again in the first round of the playoffs, these teams must meet in the final. And so it happened.

The “Sonics” that year turned out almost everything. Gary Payton gave an average of 19.3 points, 7.5 assists and 2.9 interceptions. And he held in his hands all the attacking attempts of the opponent’s best snipers, blocking the oxygen. For this, Payton will receive the nickname “The Glove” (The Glove) and the title of best defending player in the league. By the way, Payton was the first and only point guard to whom this title was submitted.

Kemp was not far behind. He became one of the best NBA frontcourt players. In the 1995/96 season, Sean was the best in the team in points (19.6) and rebounds (11.4).

At the same time, the enthusiasm of the players sometimes went through the roof, and they began to remember the past. During one of the matches, Kemp kicked the ass of his partner Detlif Schrempf, being unhappy with the penalties smeared with him. And Payton continued to enrage the entire league with his sparkling thrash-current.

No one knows how, but somehow George Karl managed to deal with it all.

- Hey Gary! Enough to play this combination! - shouted from the bench Carl.

Shut up, your mother! And sit on the damn place! - answered Payton.

- Shut up yourself, damn talker! - retorted the head coach.

This went on the whole championship. The leaders checked the coach for lice, he reciprocated. Surprisingly, it worked.

During the playoffs, “Sonics” deal with the current champions “Houston Rockets”, beating them at one wicket - 4-0. And then in the hardest seven-match series they send “Utah Jazz” for fishing.

“I don't care what you think there, coach.” I will keep Michael in the finals! - with characteristic bravado, he will declare before the final series Gary Payton.

In general, the head coach was not opposed. It was the best option against Jordan in the finals. And it should be noted that Payton did everything he could in defense against the best player in history. He met him halfway through the Bulls venue, like a madman chasing him all over the parquet, trying to get him out with his three-story thrash-current. Nothing helped, even Payton reduced Michael's statistics from 36 points on average in this playoff to 27.3 points in the final.

Sean Kemp was fine too. He gave the final series with 23 points, 10 rebounds and 2 blocks on average per game. But everything was in vain. “Bulls” were stronger in six games.

And yet, “Seattle” has achieved the main thing. He won our hearts.

Unfortunately, that “Seattle” never won the championship title, as close to him. And then, as it happens, Icarus seared his wings, getting too close to the sun.

Kemp demanded a lot of money. As a result, not having received them at Sonic, he requested an exchange. Left for Cleveland. Plumped up to 145 kilograms and got hooked on cocaine.

George Karl left to build a new team in Milwaukee.

And Gary Payton completely flew off the coils. He fought with pimps and strippers, hung out with dubious personalities and completely stopped following his tongue. However, Payton will still play for the famous stellar convocation “Lakers”, and even get to the title in the “Miami”.

“Supersonics” for many years will fall into a black-earth strip of impenetrable emptiness. Until the 2004/05 season, the team won the divisional title. The cornerstone of that victory will be Ray Allen, who after some time will ask for an exchange in the Celtics, where he will make the legendary trio with Garnett and Pierce.

May 22, 2007 “Supersonics” will pick on draft the future NBA superstar Kevin Durant. But Durant will have time to spend quite a bit in the form of a team. In July 2008, “Seattle Supersonics” will continue as a franchise, but end as “Supersonic.” That day it will be announced that the team will move from Seattle to Oklahoma City. In addition, the team changed colors and name.

“Supersonics” after season 41 in Seattle were in Oklahoma under a new sign - “Thunder”. More than 10 years have passed since one of the most tragic franchise moves in the USA, but Washington fans do not lose hope of seeing with their own eyes how the yellow-green team will again fight for the Larry O'Brien trophy.

The light at the end of the Sonic tunnel for fans loomed quite unexpectedly. A group of investors decided to invest in the Seattle Center as part of the expansion ... NHL. Under the Seattle Hockey Partners (SHP) brand, the producer of iconic Hollywood blockbusters Jerry Bruckheimer, his partner, minority owner of the Boston Celtics billionaire David Bonderman, joined together to manage the new hockey club, Tod Leiveke, a man with over thirty years of management experience in American sports. It was these three who were able to solve the problem of the main arena of Seattle, which has not been solved for years, and because of which Washington lost its favorite franchise. “KeyArena” was a suitcase without a handle - the thing is

Today, with the coronavirus pandemic reigning all over the world, Seattle is particularly suffering. The city is one of the centers of the spread of the virus in the United States. Sooner or later, humanity will cope with the pandemic, as it was before, as it always will be. And you and I have to build a new life. They in Seattle will not be easy. But they have hope, and they have a compass that points in the direction of the city’s most beloved team - the enchanting Supersonics.

And today we must not forget about their great past. We must believe in their grandiose future. Let it be so!