Greatest of All-Time: 1979 Seattle Supersonics

KIROTV.com

The older the violin, the sweeter the music. It doesn't get any sweeter than 1979.

Edited by Tiffany Villigan

Call me an old fart. Say I'm stuck in the 1970s. Ask me why I'm not wearing my leisure suit or bell-bottom pants. Put the following words in my mouth: "Get off my lawn!"

Go ahead and say all of those things, but don't expect me to change my mind about this declaration. The 1979 Seattle Supersonics ARE the best team in the history of the franchise.

The '78 team is essentially the same and the '96 squad isn't far behind, but until we get a team back and until that team wins the NBA championship, no other Sonics' roster can lay claim to being the best.

Most who disagree will point to the '96ers. They will say they were much more athletic. They will say that the only reason they didn't win is because they faced Michael Jordan's best team and that the 1979 team would've lost to the Bulls as well. They are likely correct on both statements.

As much as I loved that team, however, the same unit (essentially) should've won the previous two championships when Jordan was away. As we painfully remember, they choked out of the first round on both occasions.

My assertion isn't just about the rings, however. It's about which team would've beaten the other in a seven-game series. I think it would've been the previous generation.

The big matchup between the two teams would've been the guards. How would the tandem of Gus Williams and Dennis Johnson do against the duo of Gary Payton and Nate McMillan?

From a defensive standpoint, Johnson was every bit as good as Payton and McMillan, but Williams probably wasn't in their class, so the '96 team would have a slight advantage.

From an offensive point of view, however, I would give the '79 team an edge because both DJ and Gus were very good offensive players. Gary developed a good offensive game, but McMillan was definitely more of a defender.

Style of play would play a big factor here. Payton tended to struggle more defending the small and quick guards like Nick Van Exel. Williams was better and quicker than Nick the Quick, and I think he would've given Payton and McMillan some real headaches.

Also consider that the 1996 team was built around a pressure defense. Gus and DJ were both exceptional ball handlers and would've been able to beat that scheme, especially when you consider they also had Johnny Johnson, who truly invented the point forward concept. Sorry, Scotty Pippen.

Once they beat the press defense, the half court offense would've been very effective. Jack Sikma would've posted up, Gus would've penetrated the lane, and Freddy Brown would've torched the net from outside. Sikma was also a very effective passer, rebounder, and free throw shooter.

Speaking of rebounding, Lonnie Shelton was effective, as was the team's enforcer, Paul Silas, coming off the bench.

The 1979 team was a well-rounded scoring unit and had seven players average double figures, compared to five for the 1996 squad.

It would've been a great series to watch. I say the old farts would've won it in seven games.

Now, get off my lawn.

THIS IS WHAT A CHAMPIONSHIP LOOKS LIKE

Comparisons aside, the Sonics beat the Washington Bullets in five games. I'm hoping that the Seahawks experience this in a few weeks. This is what can happen.

ROSTER

#

Player

Pos

Ht

Wt

Exp

College

21

Dennis Awtrey

C

6'10"

235

8

Santa Clara University

32

Fred Brown

PG

6'3"

182

7

University of Iowa

22

Lars Hansen

C

6'10"

225

R

University of Washington

10

Joe Hassett

SG

6'5"

180

1

Providence

24

Dennis Johnson

SG

6'4"

185

2

Pepperdine

27

John Johnson

SF

6'7"

200

8

Iowa

23

Tom LaGarde

SF

6'10"

220

1

University of North Carolina

22

Jackie Robinson

SF

6'6"

210

R

University of Nevada

8

Lonnie Shelton

PF

6'8"

240

2

Oregon State University

43

Jack Sikma

C

6'11"

230

1

Illinois Wesleyan University

35

Paul Silas

PF

6'7"

220

14

Creighton University

11

Dick Snyder

SG

6'5"

207

12

Davidson College

42

Wally Walker

SF

6'7"

190

2

University of Virginia

1

Gus Williams

PG

6'2"

175

3

Southern California

STATS

Player

G

MP

FG%

FT%

TRB

AST

STL

PPG

Gus Williams

76

2266

.495

.775

245

307

158

19.2

Dennis Johnson

80

2717

.434

.781

374

280

100

15.9

Jack Sikma

82

2958

.460

.814

1013

261

82

15.6

Fred Brown

77

1961

.469

.888

172

260

76

14.0

Lonnie Shelton

76

2158

.519

.693

468

110

76

13.5

John Johnson

76

2386

.434

.760

412

358

59

11.0

Tom LaGarde

73

575

.541

.600

190

32

6

11.0

Wally Walker

82

969

.490

.604

45

42

14

6.6

Paul Silas

82

1957

.423

.598

575

115

31

5.6

Lars Hansen

1

205

.509

.581

59

4

1

5.1

Joe Hassett

68

463

.474

1.000

32

45

14

4.1

Jackie Robinson

32

105

.463

.533

19

13

5

3.8

Dick Snyder

82

536

.433

.843

48

63

14

3.7

Dennis Awtrey

79

499

.429

.694

104

49

13

2.0

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Sonics Rising

You must be a member of Sonics Rising to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Sonics Rising. You should read them.

Join Sonics Rising

You must be a member of Sonics Rising to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Sonics Rising. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9347_tracker