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What Happened To The Seattle Supersonics

What Happened To The Seattle Supersonics

What Happened To The Seattle SuperSonics

The Rise and Relocation of the Seattle SuperSonics

The Seattle SuperSonics, an iconic NBA franchise, was established in 1967 and became a beloved part of the Seattle sports landscape. The team, known affectionately as the Sonics, had a storied history marked by significant achievements and memorable players. However, their story took a dramatic turn in 2008 when the team relocated to Oklahoma City and was rebranded as the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Early Years and Development

The SuperSonics were introduced to the NBA landscape in 1967, thanks to efforts by businessmen Sam Schulman and Eugene V. Klein. The team’s name, a nod to Seattle’s aviation industry, was fitting for a city that was home to Boeing’s aerospace operations. The Sonics played their inaugural game in October 1967, and although their first season was challenging, it set the foundation for future success.

Throughout the late 1960s and early 1970s, the SuperSonics began shaping a competitive team. With key players like Lenny Wilkens and Spencer Haywood, the team’s performance improved significantly. Wilkens, who served both as a player and coach, was instrumental in leading the team to its first playoff appearances.

Championship Success and Legacy

The pinnacle of the SuperSonics’ success came in 1979 when they clinched the NBA Championship. Under the guidance of coach Lenny Wilkens and with stars like Jack Sikma and Gus Williams, the Sonics triumphed over the Washington Bullets in the Finals. This period marked a golden era for the team, with multiple playoff appearances and a strong fan base.

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, the SuperSonics remained competitive, bolstered by talents such as Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp. The duo led the team to multiple playoff runs, including a notable appearance in the 1996 NBA Finals against the Chicago Bulls. Despite their loss, the team’s spirited performance captured the hearts of fans nationwide.

Ownership Changes and Relocation

The turn of the millennium brought significant challenges for the SuperSonics, primarily related to ownership and financial issues. In 2001, Howard Schultz, then chairman of Starbucks, acquired the team, but his tenure was marked by controversy and dissatisfaction regarding the team’s direction and financial health. In 2006, Schultz sold the team to a group led by Oklahoma City businessman Clay Bennett, which shifted the fate of the franchise dramatically.

Bennett’s group, Professional Basketball Club LLC, initially promised to keep the team in Seattle. However, they soon sought public funding for a new arena, which was not forthcoming. Frustrations grew as negotiations with the city stalled, and in 2008, following a legal battle, Bennett relocated the franchise to Oklahoma City, citing financial losses and inadequate facilities as primary reasons.

Impact on Seattle and the NBA

The relocation of the SuperSonics was met with widespread dismay and anger from the Seattle community and basketball fans. The move not only left Seattle without an NBA team but also raised questions about team loyalty, community support, and the business dynamics of professional sports. The team’s history, colors, and records were retained with the possibility of revival should a new team emerge in Seattle.

In Oklahoma City, the team was rebranded as the Thunder and has since developed its own identity and success, including several playoff appearances and a strong fan base. Meanwhile, efforts to revive the SuperSonics in Seattle have continued, with various groups expressing interest in bringing an NBA team back to the city.

Legacy and Future Prospects

The story of the Seattle SuperSonics is a poignant chapter in NBA history, reflecting both the business realities and the emotional connections of sports. The legacy of the Sonics lives on through its former players, dedicated fans, and ongoing efforts to revive the team. As discussions about expansion and franchise relocation continue, many in Seattle hold out hope for the return of their beloved SuperSonics.


  • When were the Seattle SuperSonics founded?
    The Seattle SuperSonics were founded in 1967.
  • Why did the Seattle SuperSonics relocate to Oklahoma City?
    The relocation was primarily due to financial losses and the inability to secure public funding for a new arena in Seattle.
  • What was the Seattle SuperSonics’ greatest achievement?
    Their greatest achievement was winning the NBA Championship in 1979.
  • Are there any efforts to bring an NBA team back to Seattle?
    Yes, there have been ongoing discussions and efforts by various groups to bring an NBA team back to Seattle.
  • Did the Seattle SuperSonics change their name after the relocation?
    Yes, the team was rebranded as the Oklahoma City Thunder after the relocation.
  • What happened to the SuperSonics’ team records and history?
    The team’s records and history were retained for potential future use by a new NBA franchise in Seattle.

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