1979 NBA Champions Homepage

FRONT ROW (from left): Trainer Frank Furtado, Dick Snyder, Jackie Robinson, Fred Brown, Joe Hassett, Dennis Johnson, Gus Williams, Scout Mike Uporsky, Assistant Coach Les Habegger.
BACK ROW (from left): Head Coach Lenny Wilkens, Dennis Awtrey, Tom LaGarde, John Johnson, Lonnie Shelton, Paul Silas, Jack Sikma, General Manager Zollie Volchok.
NOT PICTURED: Wally Walker

The Seattle SuperSonics earned their only NBA Championship during the 1978-79 season, defeating the Washington Bullets four games to one in the NBA Finals.

After advancing to the Finals and losing to the Bullets the previous season, the Sonics returned largely the same lineup, with Lonnie Shelton replacing Marvin Webster in the starting lineup after Webster signed with New York and the Sonics received Shelton as compensation.

The Sonics won 52 games, which was then the most in franchise history, and won the Pacific Division during the regular season for the first time ever. Gus Williams led the team in scoring at 19.2 points per game, but a balanced Sonics scoring attack saw seven players average double-figures (including center Tom LaGarde, who played just 23 games after suffering a season-ending knee injury). Center Jack Sikma led the team with 12.4 rebounds per game, while forward John Johnson topped the Sonics with an average of 4.4 assists. Sikma and guard Dennis Johnson were All-Stars, playing for Coach Lenny Wilkens. As a team, the Sonics led the NBA by allowing 103.9 points per game.

By winning the Pacific, the Sonics earned a first-round playoff bye, and were able to wait for the Los Angeles Lakers. They defeated the Lakers four games to one, though all five games were close and the Lakers lost four times by a total of 24 points. The Phoenix Suns presented a more difficult challenge, taking a 3-2 series lead to Phoenix for Game 6. The Sonics pulled out a miraculous 106-105 victory in Phoenix and were able to hold of a late Suns charge for a 114-110 win at the Kingdome in Game 7.

That set up a rematch with the Bullets. In Game 1, Washington pulled out a 99-97 win thanks to some questionable calls down the stretch. The Sonics won going away in Game 2 to even the series heading back to Seattle. The key game would prove to be Game 4, which the Sonics won 114-112 in overtime to take a commanding 3-1 lead in the series. Another close game ended up a Sonics victory in Washington to secure the championship by a 97-93 final on Jun. 1, 1979.

Dennis Johnson was named MVP of the Finals on the strength of his 22.6 points per game and typically outstanding defense. Williams led the Sonics in scoring all five games, averaging 28.6 points per game.

Other Articles

  • 1979 NBA Finals Recap
  • Championship Q&A With Gus Williams
  • Championship Q&A With Jack Sikma
  • How the 1978-79 Champions Were Built

    Roster (Click on player's name for bio)

    NUM PLAYER POS HT WT DOB FROM YRS
    21 Dennis Awtrey C 6-10 250 2/22/48 Santa Clara '70 8
    32 Fred Brown G 6-3 185 7/7/48 Iowa '71 7
    22 Lars Hansen F-C 6-10 220 9/14/54 Washington '76 R
    10 Joe Hassett G 6-5 180 9/11/55 Providence '77 1
    24 Dennis Johnson G 6-4 185 9/18/54 Pepperdine '76 2
    27 John Johnson F 6-7 200 10/18/47 Iowa '70 8
    23 Tom LaGarde C 6-10 220 2/10/55 North Carolina '77 1
    22 Jackie Robinson F-G 6-6 210 5/20/55 UNLV '78 R
    8 Lonnie Shelton F 6-8 245 10/19/55 Oregon State '76 2
    43 Jack Sikma C 6-11 230 11/14/55 Illinois Wesleyan '77 1
    35 Paul Silas F 6-7 230 7/12/43 Creighton '64 14
    11 Dick Snyder G 6-5 210 2/1/44 Davidson '67 12
    42 Wally Walker F 6-7 190 7/18/54 Virginia '76 2
    1 Gus Williams G 6-2 175 10/10/53 USC '75 3
    HEAD COACH: Lenny Wilkens
    ASSISTANT COACH: Les Habegger
    PRESIDENT: Sam Schulman
    EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT/GENERAL MANAGER: Zollie Volchok

    Statistics

    REBOUNDS
    † Player G MPG FG% FT% OFF DEF TOT APG SPG BPG TO PPG
    †Gus Williams 76 29.8 .495 .775 1.5 1.8 3.2 4.0 2.1 0.4 2.5 19.2†
    †Dennis Johnson 80 34.0 .434 .781 1.8 2.9 4.7 3.5 1.3 1.2 2.4 15.9†
    †Jack Sikma 82 36.1 .460 .814 2.8 9.5 12.4 3.2 1.0 0.8 3.1 15.6†
    †Fred Brown 77 25.5 .469 .888 0.5 1.7 2.2 3.4 1.5 0.3 2.1 14.0†
    †Lonnie Shelton 76 28.4 .519 .693 2.4 3.8 6.2 1.4 1.0 1.0 2.5 13.5†
    †John Johnson 82 29.1 .434 .760 1.5 3.5 5.0 4.4 0.7 0.3 3.1 11.0†
    †Tom LaGarde 23 25.0 .541 .600 2.7 5.6 8.3 1.4 0.3 0.8 2.0 11.0†
    †Wally Walker 60 16.2 .487 .604 1.1 1.9 3.0 1.2 0.2 0.4 1.1 6.6†
    †Paul Silas 82 23.9 .423 .598 3.2 3.9 7.0 1.4 0.4 0.2 1.2 5.6†
    †Lars Hansen 15 13.7 .509 .581 1.5 2.5 3.9 0.9 0.1 0.1 0.6 5.1†
    †Joe Hassett 55 8.4 .474 1.00 0.2 0.6 0.8 0.8 0.3 0.1 0.6 4.1†
    †Jackie Robinson 12 8.8 .463 .533 0.8 0.8 1.6 1.1 0.4 0.1 0.9 3.8†
    †Dick Snyder 56 9.6 .433 .843 0.3 0.6 0.9 1.1 0.3 0.1 0.6 3.7†
    †Dennis Awtrey 40 12.5 .429 .694 0.7 1.9 2.6 1.2 0.3 0.2 0.8 2.0†
    Team Averages 82 240.9 .468 .754 16.0 31.6 47.6 24.1 8.4 4.9 19.3 106.6
    Opponents 70 240.9 .463 .773 14.1 29.9 44.0 23.3 9.2 5.0 18.2 103.9