Seattle Supersonics A History

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On December 20, 1966, Los Angeles businessmen Sam Schulman and Eugene V. Klein and a group of minority partners were awarded the NBA franchise for the city of Seattle. Schulman would serve as the active partner and head of team operations. Named the SuperSonics, they were Seattle’s first professional sports franchise. Beginning play in October of 1967, the SuperSonics were coached by Al Bianchi and featured All-Star guard Walt Hazzard and All-Rookie Team members Bob Rule and Al Tucker. The expansion team stumbled to a 23-59 record, and Hazzard was traded to the Atlanta Hawks before the start of the next season for future Hall-of-Famer Lenny Wilkens. Wilkens brought a strong all-around game to the SuperSonics, averaging 22.4 points per game, 8.2 assists per game, and 6.2 rebounds per game for Seattle in the 1968-69 season. Rule, meanwhile, improved on his rookie statistics with 24.0 points per game and 11.5 rebounds per game. The SuperSonics, however, only won 30 games and Bianchi was replaced by Wilkens as coach during the off-season.

Wilkens and Rule both represented Seattle in the 1970 NBA All-Star Game, and Wilkens led the NBA in assists during the 1969-70 season. Early in the 1970-71 season, however, Rule tore his achilles tendon and was lost for the rest of the year. Wilkens was named the 1971 All-Star Game MVP, but the big news of the season came when owner Sam Schulman managed to land ABA Rookie of the Year and MVP Spencer Haywood following a lengthy court battle. The following season, the SuperSonics went on to record their first winning season at 47-35. The team, led by player-coach Wilkens and All-NBA forward Haywood, held a 46-27 mark on March 3, but late season injuries to starters Haywood, Dick Snyder, and Don Smith contributed to the team losing eight of its final nine games

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