Greatest of All-Time: The 1982 Seattle Supersonics

Over the next few weeks SonicsRising will be running reviews of the 22 Seattle Supersonics teams that made the playoffs. Up now, the 1982 Sonics.

Edited by Joanna Nesgoda

The 1982 Sonics would be the last 50-plus win team ever coached by the legendary Lenny Wilkens.

The team was led by long time Sonics greats Jack Sikma and Gus Williams, as well as power forward Lonnie Shelton who made the only all-star appearance of his career this season; Sikma and Williams were also all-stars.

Shelton and Sikma were both named to the All-Defensive second team while Williams landed on the All-NBA first team.

In the draft, the Sonics landed Utah PF Danny Vranes with the fifth overall pick. Vranes would go on to play in the NBA until 1988 before going to play overseas. Vranes had his best season in 1985, making the NBA's All-Defensive second team. In his rookie season, Vranes averaged just 4.9 points and 2.6 rebounds per game. In the second round of the 1981 draft, the Sonics took combo guard Mark Radford from Oregon State.

The Sonics made their way through the season and ended with 52 wins; it was the fifth best record in the league, good enough for 2nd in the Pacific division, and a trip to the post season. The Sonics also finished 3rd in defensive rating this season.

In the first round, the Sonics handled Moses Malone, Elvin Hayes and the Houston Rockets in three games, beating the Rockets 2-1 in the series.

The second round wouldn't be as easy for the Sonics though, as they were running up against the "Iceman" George Gervin and his San Antonio Spurs squad. The Spurs, led by Gervin's and Mike Mitchell's 24-plus points-per-game in the series took the Sonics down in five games. The Sonics were in every game though, with three of the five games being decided by two points, and the only game Seattle won (game two) was decided in their favor by 15 points, the largest margin of victory in the series.

Here's how the roster shaped out:

ROSTER

No.

Player

Pos

Ht

Wt

Exp

College

20

James Bailey

PF

6-9

220

2

Rutgers University

32

Fred Brown

SG

6-3

182

10

University of Iowa

40

James Donaldson

C

7-2

275

1

Washington State University

22

Bill Hanzlik

SF

6-7

185

1

University of Notre Dame

24

Armond Hill

PG

6-4

190

5

Princeton University

27

John Johnson

SF

6-7

200

11

University of Iowa

15

Vinnie Johnson

SG

6-2

200

2

Baylor University

3

Greg Kelser

SF

6-7

190

2

Michigan State University

30

Mark Radford

SG

6-4

190

R

Oregon State University

8

Lonnie Shelton

PF

6-8

240

5

Oregon State University

43

Jack Sikma

C

6-11

230

4

Illinois Wesleyan University

20

Phil Smith

SG

6-4

185

7

University of San Francisco

33

Ray Tolbert

PF

6-9

225

R

Indiana University

23

Danny Vranes

SF

6-7

210

R

University of Utah

42

Wally Walker

SF

6-7

190

5

University of Virginia

1

Gus Williams

PG

6-2

175

5

University of Southern California

STATS

Player

G

MP

FG%

FT%

TRB

AST

STL

PPG

Gus Williams

80

2876

.486

.734

244

549

172

23.4

Jack Sikma

82

3049

.479

.855

1038

277

102

19.6

Lonnie Shelton

81

2667

.486

.783

509

252

99

14.9

Fred Brown

82

1785

.455

.860

140

238

69

11.2

Wally Walker

70

1965

.480

.672

305

218

36

9.9

James Donaldson

82

1710

.609

.629

490

51

27

8.1

Bill Hanzlik

81

1974

.468

.784

266

183

81

5.8

Danny Vranes

77

1075

.546

.601

198

56

28

4.9

Greg Kelser

49

558

.438

.655

154

45

13

4.9

Phil Smith

26

596

.468

.727

69

74

22

8.2

Ray Tolbert

52

492

.506

.556

99

25

8

3.4

Mark Radford

43

369

.540

.507

29

57

16

3.4

James Bailey

10

180

.477

.364

48

13

3

6.6

John Johnson

14

187

.489

.750

18

29

4

4.2

Armond Hill

21

243

.514

.739

25

25

5

2.6

Vinnie Johnson

7

104

.409

.750

15

11

6

3.9

Outside of the research I did, I know very little about this team. Clips of the game four loss to San Antonio are on YouTube, but outside of that I never saw this team play. Did you? Share your memories, thoughts, and debate what Sonics team was the greatest of all-time in the comment section. And don't forget to vote!

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