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Greatest of All-Time: The 1983 Seattle Supersonics

The Sonics continued a series of average finishes in the '80s.

Edited by Joanna Nesgoda

The 1983 squad was continuing the slide of the team that won the NBA Championship, in what would eventually devolve into the decade that would become the Lakers/Celtics showcase (even though an Erving led 76ers would win this year).

This squad was led by NBA All-Star starter David Thompson (15.9 ppg)who was a powerful dunker that started in his ABA days who still had his flashes of greatness. Backing him up were some of the core of the Championship team: Jack Sikma (18.2 ppg)NBA All-Star Gus Williams (20 ppg), and NBA All-Star Fred Brown (10.2 ppg). James Donaldson (8.9 ppg) and Lonnie Shelton (12.4 ppg) were key components as well. Danny Vranes continued the maturation of his rookie season by playing in all 82 games averaging almost 7 points a game. There were numerous picks in that year's draft (which at the time went all the way up to 8 rounds), but the only one that saw any on court action was a third round draft choice taken with the 65 pick, John Greig from the University of Oregon. He came to Oregon by way of Wenatchee Valley Community College (shout out to the Nesgodas current home base) and was lightly used, playing in just 9 games and averaging only just over 2 points a game.

Perhaps the most amazing thing about this squad was they started out with a twelve game winning streak and didn't lose until a 20 point drubbing at the hands of the New Jersey Nets on Nov 21st. Their home attendance was 4th out of 23 teams at 539,622, which brings up two thoughts relevant to the current situation: Yes, people will go and attend Sonics games, and Yes, the league can have an odd number of teams. The league had an odd number of teams for twenty years.

Towards the end of the season they went on another tear winning 8 in row, but lost the last three games of the regular season finishing with a record of 48-34, earning them 3rd in the Pacific Division. They then faced off against the Portland Trailblazers who finished 4th in the Pacific Division with a 46-36 record and were led by Jim Paxson, Calvin Natt, and Mychal Thompson. They were unceremoniously beaten in two straight games to end their season in the first round.

Another one of the highlights of the '83 season was Supersonics Executive Zollie Volchok being named NBA Executive of the Year. He used his background in promotion to bring in halftime shows and ideas like Ladies, Kids and Senior nights. Volchok would step down when Schulman would sell the team to Ackerely at the end of the year.

Anything about this team you'd like to add please leave a comment! Also, where do you think this team ranks among the Sonics playoff teams?


32,Fred Brown,PG,6-3,182,11,University of Iowa

40,James Donaldson,C,7-2,275,2,Washington State University

22,John Greig,SF,6-7,215,R,University of Oregon

10,Steve Hawes,PF,6-9,220,8,University of Washington

3,Greg Kelser,SF,6-7,190,3,Michigan State University

30,Mark Radford,SG,6-4,190,1,Oregon State University

,Lonnie Shelton,PF,6-8,240,6,Oregon State University

43,Jack Sikma,C,6-11,230,5,Illinois Wesleyan University

20,Phil Smith,SG,6-4,185,8,University of San Francisco

44,David Thompson,SG,6-4,195,7,North Carolina State University

33,Ray Tolbert,PF,6-9,225,1,Indiana University

23,Danny Vranes,SF,6-7,210,1,University of Utah

1,Gus Williams,PG,6-2,175,6,University of Southern California


Gus Williams,80,34.5,.477,.751,2.6,8.0,2.3,20.0

Jack Sikma,75,34.2,.464,.837,11.4,3.1,1.2,18.2

David Thompson,75,28.7,.481,.784,3.6,3.0,0.6,15.9

Lonnie Shelton,82,31.4,.478,.754,6.0,2.9,0.9,12.4

Fred Brown,80,17.9,.520,.806,1.2,3.0,0.7,10.2

James Donaldson,82,21.8,.583,.688,6.1,1.2,0.2,8.9

Greg Kelser,80,18.8,.549,.673,5.0,1.2,0.7,8.3

Danny Vranes,82,25.0,.527,.550,5.2,1.5,0.6,6.9

Phil Smith,79,15.7,.438,.759,1.6,2.7,0.6,5.7

Steve Hawes,31,17.9,.493,.719,4.3,1.2,0.3,5.5

Ray Tolbert,45,15.8,.526,.545,3.4,0.7,0.4,5.0

Mark Radford,54,8.1,.488,.411,0.9,1.9,0.6,3.7

John Greig,9,2.9,.538,.833,0.7,0.0,0.0,2.1