Sonics Update

  • Tuesday, November 28, 2000 9:00pm
  • Sports

Herald Staff

  • Opponent: Los Angeles Lakers

  • When: 7 p.m. Thursday

  • Where: KeyArena, Seattle

  • TV: KONG (Ch. 6/16)

  • Radio: KJR (950 AM)

  • McMillan, the early years: Bob Whitsitt had been on the job a month when he participated in his first draft as Seattle SuperSonics president back in 1986. Seattle didn’t have a first-round pick that year, so Whitsitt’s first selection in the second round was a little-known guard from North Carolina State named Nate McMillan.

    “When we drafted him, nobody knew who he was,” Whitsitt said. “The highlight film we showed (to the fans on draft day) wasn’t much of a highlight film. He was missing layups.”

    Whitsitt then negotiated a contract with McMillan and graciously agreed to guarantee $50,000 of the deal, after which McMillan went on the injured list with knee tendinitis. “I kind of had to answer a little bit (to Sonics owner Barry Ackerley, apparently) that this unknown guy was guaranteed $50,000 and he’s got tendinitis and can’t even be on the (active roster),” Whitsitt said.

    Of course, McMillan more than justified Whitsitt’s early faith over the years. He went on to play 12 productive NBA seasons, was team captain for a time and eventually had his uniform number retired by the Sonics. He retired after the 1997-98 season and became a Seattle assistant coach.

    One of Whitsitt’s favorite McMillan memories came in the 1990-91 season, the year Seattle drafted Gary Payton. A decision was made to make Payton the starter and move McMillan, a three-year starter, to the bench.

    “I told him that we were planning to give Gary the ball and let him start,” Whitsitt said. “But out of respect for (Nate) we said, ‘You’re having a great career and if you’d like us to trade you, we will. And he said, ‘No, if I have to be a backup, I will. I want to be here. I want to be a Sonic.’ Any time you went to Nate, it was always about helping the team win. It was not about Nate McMillan.

    “He’ll be a great coach,” said Whitsitt, who today is president of the Blazers. “Even though he’s a nice guy, there’s a real toughness about Nate McMillan and a real competitive streak. The guy is as competitive as any of the great players you’ve ever met. … He’s a high character guy.”

  • More McMillan: As a player, McMillan spent afternoons on game day resting at home or in his hotel room. Before his first game as a coach, McMillan attempted to follow the same routine.

    “I tried to go back and take a nap, and I couldn’t do it,” McMillan said. “I don’t know if I’m nervous or just excited. But I think this will be going on for several days until I just fall over.

    “Hopefully it won’t be on the floor during the game,” he added with a smile.

    Talk to us

    > Give us your news tips.

    > Send us a letter to the editor.

    > More Herald contact information.

  • More in Sports

    Glacier Peak High School graduate Matt King was selected to the U.S. Olympic team in men’s swimming. King was selected as a member of the 400 freestyle relay team. (Matt Riley / University of Virginia athletic communications)
    Glacier Peak grad Matt King headed to the Olympics

    King was selected in men’s swimming as a member of the 400-meter freestyle relay team.

    Logan Gilbert of the Seattle Mariners pitches against the Miami Marlins during the first inning at LoanDepot park on Saturday, June 22, 2024, in Miami. (Megan Briggs / Getty Images)
    Gilbert fantastic again, but first-place Mariners falter

    Seattle loses two of three against Miami, sees its lead in the AL West drop to six games.

    Roe places eighth in women’s 5,000 meters at Olympic trials

    The Lake Stevens High School graduate is expected to race again Saturday in the 10,000.

    Silvertips announce preseason schedule

    Everett will play four exhibition games, all at Angel of the Winds Arena.

    Last-second TD lifts Wolfpack to first road win

    Diondre Borel throws five TD passes, including the game winner, as Washington tops Southwest Kansas.

    Amy Yang holds steady to win KPMG Women’s PGA Championship

    The South Korean claims the prize at the major tournament played at Sammamish’s Sahalee Country Club.

    Glacier Peak’s Karsten Sweum (10) poses for a portrait as The Herald's All-Area Baseball Player of the Year at Glacier Peak High School on Tuesday, June 18, 2024 in Snohomish, Washington. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
    2024 Baseball Player of the Year: Glacier Peak’s Karsten Sweum

    The smoke-throwing senior left-handed pitcher struck out more than two batters per inning.

    Lake Stevens’ Trey Nance deals early in the game during a playoff loss to Bothell on Saturday, May 4, 2024, in Lake Stevens, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
    The Herald’s 2024 All-Area baseball team

    Editor’s note: The Player of the Year and All-Area teams were chosen… Continue reading

    Glacier Peak grad King comes up just short in Olympic bid

    King placed third in the men’s 50 freestyle at U.S. Olympic trials, but still could qualify in a relay.

    Shorewood senior Isaak Abraham poses for a portrait as The Herald's Boys Soccer Player of the Year at Shorewood High School on Wednesday, June 19, 2024 in Shoreline, Washington. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
    2024 Boys Soccer Player of the Year: Shorewood’s Isaak Abraham

    The Stormrays senior forward led Shorewood to Wesco 3A/2A and Class 3A District 1 titles.

    Everett’s J’aiden Cranwell-Meneses leaves a Monroe defender in the dirt while advancing the ball during a 3A District soccer match on Thursday, May 2, 2024, at Monroe High School in Monroe, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
    The Herald’s 2024 All-Area boys soccer team

    Editor’s note: The Player of the Year and All-Area teams were chosen… Continue reading

    Lake Stevens High School graduate Taylor Roe competes for Oklahoma State University at the 2024 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships on June 8 in Eugene, Oregon. (Photo courtesy of Oklahoma State University)
    Taylor Roe competes at the Olympic trials this weekend

    Now that the Lake Stevens H.S. graduate’s decorated college running career is done, the pro ranks are next.

    Support local journalism

    If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.