Episode 45: Seattle SuperSonics Pt 2 w/ Jeremy Engdahl-Johnson
The Seattle SuperSonics played in the Pacific and NW divisions of the Western Conference from 1967 until 2008 and were NBA Champions in 1979. The franchise won three Western Conference titles (1978, 1979, 1996) and six divisional titles (1979, 1994, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2005). After the 2007–08 season ended, the SuperSonics relocated to Oklahoma City, and were renamed the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Lenny Wilkens, Gus Williams, Finals MVP Dennis Johnson, Jack Sikma, Fred Brown... Tom Chambers, Xavier McDaniel, Dale Ellis... Shawn Kemp, Gary Payton, Sam Perkins, Detlef Schrempf, Nate McMillan... while the franchise will always be fondly remembered for it's incredible on-court memories, the full story of Seattle and the SuperSonics, chockfull of mismanagement, personal woes, greed, deceit and inept ownership, is ultimately one of heartbreak and loss.
Jeremy Engdahl-Johnson joins the pod for a two-part deep-dive detailing 40 years of wins and losses for professional basketball in Seattle.
1998-2008, STRUGGLES, DURANT
Nate McMillan leaving Seattle for Portland (3:00), Clayton Bennett buys the team, Kevin Durant is selected #2 overall in the 2007 NBA Draft (3:50), Sam Presti and the youth rebuild (4:30), Durant wins ROY (5:15).
THE HEIST OF THE SUPERSONICS FROM SEATTLE: BILLIONAIRES, POLITICIANS, OKC
Barry Ackerley sells the SuperSonics to Howard Schultz, Starbucks CEO, in 2001 (8:30), Gary Payton holds out, demands a new contract and is traded to the Bucks (11:00), KeyArena (13:00), the city of Seattle's history with financing sports arenas (14:20), comparing KeyArena and modern sports stadiums (15:00), Howard Schultz, David Stern and Wally Walker ask Seattle for public financing in 2006 (17:00), Schultz passes the buck, blames local politicians and sells the team to Clay Bennett on July 18, 2006 (18:30), Schultz's hypocrisy (20:00), Clay Bennett (21:00), Bennett asks the state for a $500m arena in Renton, WA (22:30), Steve Ballmer makes an offer to buy the Sonics away from Clayton Bennett and fund an arena renovation himself (23:30), Clay Bennett's emails are leaked (24:35), Howard Schultz sues Clay Bennett (26:30), Clay Bennett tries to void his lease with KeyArena, the city of Seattle sues (27:40), the city of Seattle and Clay Bennett reach a cash settlement, allowing the SuperSonics to move to Oklahoma City (28:30), former Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels (28:50), state legislature and Slade Gorton (30:30), Seattle and OKC's "shared history" (32:00), David Stern (34:30), OKC going to the NBA Finals in 2012 (36:00), poet, filmmaker and Spokane-native Sherman Alexie, re: Schultz's ownership (38:15).
IN CONCLUSION, POSSIBILITY OF A NEW TEAM IN SEATTLE
Culpability, "good guys" and "bad guys" in the Sonics heist (39:30), Kevin Durant's return to Seattle for an exhibition game w/ the Golden State Warriors (41:30), prospects of a team returning to Seattle (42:30), sports facilities, arenas and the needs of fans (44:00), hopes for an expansion team (48:30).
Love the show? Got a fantasy hoops question? Want to share a Sonics memory? Let us know!