Over the 36 All-Star Games played since the Seattle SuperSonics joined the NBA as an expansion team, the team has made a major impact on the national stage. SUPERSONICS.COM wades through all the performances for the ten most memorable moments in Sonics All-Star history:
10. Hazzard Makes the Team
It all started with Walt Hazzard in 1968, who was Seattle’s first All-Star representative in a major sport with the Seattle Pilots still on the horizon and the Seahawks and Mariners distant dreams. Hazzard scored nine points in a 144-124 victory for the Eastern Conference.
9. Karl Takes it Seriously
Karl took a unique approach to coaching the All-Star Game.
In recent years, the All-Star Game has taken on something of a playground feel, with neither side playing much defense and players taking the opportunity to display their dazzling individual skills, not their teamwork. Someone apparently forgot to send George Karl
that memo. He installed a playoff-style defense against the East and particularly center Shaquille O’Neal
during the 1994 game. After the West lost anyway, 127-118, Karl took the defeat particularly hard.
8. Mason’s Slam-Dunk Near Miss
After each player completed his first dunk of the Finals, Sonics swingman Desmond Mason appeared to be on his way to victory over Golden State’s Jason Richardson. Mason earned a perfect 50 score, leading Richardson’s 46. But after Mason missed on his second attempt, he went with a conservative dunk that earned a score of 43. That opened the door for Richardson, and he slammed it shut (pun intended) by earning his own 50 with a reverse, between-the-legs flush. Mason didn’t win, but he was one-half of one of the best finishes in Slam-Dunk history.
7. Ellis Scores 27
Guard Dale Ellis had already been a 20-point-per-game scorer for the Sonics for two seasons by the time he earned his first All-Star bid, having boosted his scoring average to 27.5 points per game, third in the NBA, during the 1988-89 season. Despite playing just 26 minutes, Ellis nearly hit his average in the 1989 All-Star Game, finishing with 27 points and shooting 75.0% from the field. Fellow starter Karl Malone did Ellis slightly better, scoring 28 points and grabbing nine rebounds to earn MVP honors.
6. Sonics Send Flotilla
Though the team would come within one game of winning the NBA Finals, the Sonics sent no one to the 1978 All-Star Game. The league would rectify that mistake next year, when the Sonics sent a pair of players to the All-Star Game for the first time ever. Dennis Johnson and Jack Sikma were selected as reserves, and were joined in Detroit by Coach Lenny Wilkens and assistant Les Habegger. The four Sonics led the West to a 134-129 win, and their selections were validated when they led the Sonics to their only championship months later.
5. Payton Doubles Up
In arguably the greatest of his nine All-Star appearances with the Sonics, Gary Payton scored 17 points and handed out 10 assists in the 1997 All-Star Game. Payton might have had a claim to the MVP award, but the East won 132-120 behind 24 second-half points from Charlotte’s Glen Rice, who took home the hardware.
4. Ellis Wins Shootout
It was an outstanding All-Star weekend in 1989 for Ellis, who participated in his fourth straight Three-Point Shootout the night before the game. After finishing second the year before, Ellis broke through, beating Craig Hodges in the finals to win the Sonics only Three-Point crown.
3. Mason Brings Down the House
Mason dunked his way to the Slam-Dunk crown as a rookie.
Then a rookie, Mason had already earned a reputation amongst Sonics fans as a great dunker when he participated in the 2001 Slam-Dunk Contest, but he wasn’t well-known outside of Seattle. He changed that in a hurry. Mason took advantage of the rule which allowed a teammate to help him, jumping over Rashard Lewis
to capture the crowd’s attention and the Slam-Dunk title.
2. Wilkens Named MVP
In the eighth of his nine All-Star appearances as a player, Wilkens didn’t post overwhelming numbers – 23 points, just one rebound and one assist – but his efficient 8-for-11 shooting was enough to secure him MVP when Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s sky hook gave the West a 108-107 victory in San Diego. Wilkens was the West’s leading scorer.
1. Chambers Puts on a Show
A surprise All-Star selection as a replacement for injured Ralph Sampson, Tom Chambers made the most of his opportunity in the 1987 All-Star Game in Seattle. Chambers scored 18 of his 34 points in the fourth quarter and overtime as the West came from behind to beat the East, 154-149. Because he led the West in scoring – and maybe, just maybe, because he was playing at home – Chambers was selected game MVP in the most memorable Sonics All-Star moment.