Four Seattle Supersonics crack the ‘NBA 75’ anniversary team

Seattle Supersonics
Charlie Neibergall

United States' Kevin Durant (7) chases the ball during men's basketball gold medal game against France at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Saturday, Aug. 7, 2021, in Saitama, Japan. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

SEATTLE — Celebrating 75 years of NBA basketball, the league announced a team of the 75 greatest players to ever grace the sport. That group of distinguished Hall of Famers includes several Seattle SuperSonics legends.

Announced in rounds across several broadcasts during opening week for the league’s 75th season, this team was voted on by a panel of NBA legends, coaches, journalists, analysts and other prominent figures in the basketball community. Four players with noteworthy ties to the Seattle SuperSonics made the cut: Gary Payton, Lenny Wilkens, Ray Allen, and Kevin Durant.

Of the group, Payton is most synonymous with Seattle SuperSonics basketball. A 9-time NBA All-Star who spent 13 seasons in the Pacific Northwest, Payton is best known for his overwhelming defensive capabilities and knack for stripping the ball away from his opponents.

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He defended players at all positions without a fear in the world because of his unique blend of quickness, strength, grit and knowledge of the game. ‘The Glove’ remains Seattle’s franchise leader in games and minutes played, field goals, assists, steals and win shares (a statistic that estimates a player’s impact on winning).

Next up is Lenny Wilkens—another 9-time All-Star who spent only four seasons with the Sonics and left a lasting impression. One of the most highly-regarded coaches in basketball history, Wilkens was one of the few players who served as a player-coach. During his stint, Wilkens averaged nine assists per game, which remains the highest mark in franchise history.

While his time in Seattle didn’t result in much postseason success, Ray Allen had the best years of his career with the SuperSonics. He played 296 games across five seasons with the franchise. He was an All-Star in each of his seasons with the Sonics and averaged 24.1 points per game during that span.

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By the time his career came to a close, Allen was regarded as one of the undisputed greatest 3-point shooters in the history of the sport. Unfortunately for him, Stephen Curry emerged as Allen’s career came to a close—effectively usurping him as the greatest shooter of all time.

Last up is a semi-controversial pick for this list: Kevin Durant, who spent only one season with the Sonics before they were moved to Oklahoma City. From the moment he entered the league, it was clear that he would become one of the most impactful players in the sport.

In his rookie season in Seattle, Durant averaged 20.3 points and 4.4 rebounds per game en route to a Rookie of the Year trophy.

With Climate Pledge Arena opening to resounding support from the community, it’s only a matter of time before NBA basketball returns to Seattle—whether it be as the SuperSonics or as a new franchise entirely.

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