June 1, 1979: Seattle SuperSonics win NBA title

On June 1, 1979, the Seattle SuperSonics became world champions.

It was the last day of the National Basketball Association’s championship series (a rematch of 1978 finals) and the team took home its first title in a 97-93 win against the Washington Bullets in Landover, Maryland – the opposing team’s home court.

That night, it was what the 1979 Herald staff called “party time” in Seattle and beyond as thousands of fans gathered to salute their team.

Here’s what two staff reporters wrote in the next day’s paper:

“It was 9:30 p.m. on a hot muggy Friday evening and the Seattle SuperSonics were champions of the world.

Champions of the world, dig it!

‘We did it. We did it. We really won the thing,’ cried a young fan who came bounding down First Avenue in Pioneer Square. ‘I’ve been following the Sonics ever since they came into the National Basketball Association 12 years ago and it’s finally happened.’

‘We’re number one!’

World champs.

Sonics.

Champs.

The story continued:

“Seconds after the championship was clinched, the city began a celebration the likes of which haven’t been seen in the Pacific northwest since V-J Day at the end of World War II.

Pioneer Square erupted into a Vesuvius of emotion and color. Trendy people pouring out of the bars at the game’s conclusion danced victory jigs with not-so-trendy bums. Strangers hugged total strangers and the din of honking horns could be heard in every part of the city.

Revelers, fueled by beer, rushed out into streets to slap hands with passing motorists and an old man was handing out strips of green crepe paper to all takers.

‘We’re number one. We’re number one. We are number one one one one one,’ shouted one man – Bob Gent of Seattle – as he was kissed by a comely woman. ‘Do you think Lenny Wilkens (Sonic’s coach) could beat Dixy Lee Ray (Washington’s governor in 1979) if he ran for governor?’

‘You bet!’

See the June 2, 1979 edition of The Herald in our collection of historic front pages.

Also, look through our collection of Sonics photos from 1967 to 2008.

And here’s some KIRO video from the final game and the celebration that followed:

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Jamie Copeland is a senior at Cedar Park Christian Schools’ Mountlake Terrace campus. She is a basketball player, ASB president, cheerleader and, of course, a Lion. (Dan Bates / The Herald)
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