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Wednesday, July 19, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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A look at the Sonics' 39 seasons in Seattle

3 faces of ownership


Sam Schulman

Reputation: Maverick L.A. businessman

Bought team: Dec. 20, 1966, for $1.75 million expansion fee

Sonics reign:

16 years

Ownership group: Included Eugene Klein

Legacy: Gave Seattle its first pro sports team and first world championship in 1979.

Barry Ackerley

Reputation: Tight-lipped billboard, broadcast magnate

Bought the team: Oct. 15, 1983, for $21 million

Sonics reign:

17 years

Ownership group: Included several family members

Legacy: WNBA's Storm, the 1996 trip to the NBA Finals, renovation of KeyArena

Howard Schultz

Reputation: Emotional basketball fan who made his fortune with Starbucks

Bought the team: Jan. 11, 2001, for $200 million

Sonics reign:

5 years

Ownership group: Included 58 investors

Legacy: Swap of stars Gary Payton and Ray Allen, Storm's WNBA championship, failed five-year plan.

Dec. 20, 1966: Seattle is awarded an NBA franchise. Owners Sam Schulman and Eugene Klein pay a $1.75 million expansion fee.

Oct. 13, 1967: The SuperSonics, Seattle's first professional sports franchise, lose their first game to the Warriors. They finish 23-59 under coach Al Bianchi.

Oct. 12, 1968: Lenny Wilkens arrives in a trade with Atlanta for Walt Hazzard.

Dec. 30, 1970: After the Sonics win a legal battle, Spencer Haywood is signed, becoming the first player to jump from the ABA to the NBA.

1971-72: Behind player/coach Wilkens and Haywood, the team has its first winning season, 47-35.

Aug. 23, 1972: Wilkens is traded to Cleveland, and the team falls to 26-56 the next season.

May 11, 1973: Bill Russell, former Celtics legend, is hired as coach and general manager. The team improves to 36-46.

1974-75: In their second season under Russell, the Sonics make their first playoff appearance, losing in the second round to eventual champion Golden State.

1976-77: Russell resigns after a 40-42 season. Bob Hopkins is hired as coach.

1977-78: Wilkens returns to Seattle as coach Nov. 30, replacing Hopkins after a 5-17 start. Led by guards Gus Williams and Fred Brown and center Marvin Webster, Seattle finishes third in the Pacific Division, but upsets the Lakers, Blazers and Nuggets in the playoffs before losing in the NBA Finals in seven games to the Washington Bullets.

1978-79: After winning their first division title with a 52-30 record, the Sonics win a rematch with the Bullets for the franchise's only NBA title. After losing Game 1, Seattle wins four in a row behind starters Jack Sikma, Lonnie Shelton, John Johnson, Dennis Johnson and Gus Williams, with Paul Silas and Fred Brown off the bench.

1979-1980: The team finishes the season with a franchise-best 56 wins but is second in the division to the Lakers and falls to Los Angeles in the Western Conference finals.

October 15, 1983: Original owner Sam Schulman sells the team to billboard magnate Barry Ackerley for $21 million.

1984: Fred Brown, then the team's career scoring leader, retires.

June 20, 1985: Bernie Bickerstaff is hired as coach.

May 28, 1986: Bob Whitsitt is hired as team president.

1986-1987: Sonics make it to the Western Conference finals despite a 39-43 record but are swept in four games by the Lakers.

Feb. 8, 1987: Seattle hosts the NBA All-Star Game, and Tom Chambers is named MVP.

June 27, 1989: Shawn Kemp, a 19-year-old forward, is drafted in the first round.

June 27, 1990: Guard Gary Payton is the No. 2 overall draft pick.

Jan. 23, 1992: George Karl named coach, replacing K.C. Jones.

1993-94: Despite posting the best record in the NBA, 63-19, Sonics are upset by Denver in the first round of the playoffs.

July 21, 1994: Wally Walker is named team president.

1994-95: Team plays in the Tacoma Dome while the Seattle Center Coliseum is renovated for $75.7 million.

1995-1996: The Sonics are a club-record 64-18. Led by Shawn Kemp, Gary Payton, Detlef Schrempf, Sam Perkins and Nate McMillan, Seattle advances to the NBA Finals before losing to Michael Jordan's Chicago Bulls in six games.

Sept. 1997: Shawn Kemp is traded to Cleveland, in a deal that brings forward Vin Baker.

May 26, 1998: George Karl leaves as Sonics coach after seven seasons. Paul Westphal, a former Sonics player, replaces him on June 17.

Nov. 27, 2000: Nate McMillan, a longtime former Sonics player and assistant, is hired as interim coach, replacing Westphal.

Jan. 11, 2001: A group headed by Starbucks chairman Howard Schultz makes an offer to buy the Sonics and WNBA Storm for $200 million. The sale is approved by the NBA in March.

Feb. 20, 2003: All-Star Gary Payton is traded to the Milwaukee Bucks in a nine-player deal involving three teams. Ray Allen is one of three players acquired by Seattle. The team finishes under .500, breaking an 11-year streak of non-losing seasons.

2004-2005: The Sonics win 52 games on their way to the Northwest Division title, but lose in the second round of the playoffs to San Antonio. McMillan is named NBA Coach of the Year.

July 6, 2005: McMillan announces he's leaving to coach the Portland Trail Blazers.

July 18, 2005: Bob Weiss, a longtime assistant and former Sonics player, is hired as coach.

Jan. 3, 2006: Weiss is fired after a 13-17 start and replaced by assistant Bob Hill.

Compiled by news researchers David Turim and Gene Balk from Seattle Times news sources.

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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