1978 NBA Finals

The 1978 NBA World Championship Series was the championship round of the National Basketball Association (NBA)'s 1977–78 season, and the culmination of the season's playoffs. The series featured the Western Conference champion Seattle SuperSonics against the Eastern Conference champion Washington Bullets. The Bullets defeated the SuperSonics in seven games to win the NBA championship. Bullets power forward/center Wes Unseld was named MVP of the series. Before the Cleveland Cavaliers' Game 7 win at Golden State in the 2016 NBA Finals, this was the last time a road team had won Game 7 in the NBA Finals. The 1978 World Championship Series was the first NBA Finals series since the 1958 World Championship Series in which both teams had under 50 wins, and is the only NBA Finals to feature two teams with under 50 wins in an 82-game season.

1978 NBA Finals
TeamCoachWins
Washington Bullets Dick Motta 4
Seattle SuperSonics Lenny Wilkens 3
DatesMay 21–June 7
MVPWes Unseld
(Washington Bullets)
TelevisionCBS (U.S.)
AnnouncersBrent Musburger (All games), Rick Barry (all games), Steve Jones (Game 1), John Havlicek (Games 2, 4, 6 and 7), Gus Johnson (Game 3), and Keith Erickson (Games 4 and 5)
Radio networkMutual (National)
KOMO (SEA)
WTOP (WSH)
AnnouncersTony Roberts and Hubie Brown (Mutual)
Bob Blackburn (KOMO)
Frank Herzog (WTOP)
Referees
Game 1:Darell Garretson and Ed Rush
Game 2:Joe Gushue and Jake O'Donnell
Game 3:Earl Strom and John Vanak
Game 4:Jack Madden and Don Murphy
Game 5:Joe Gushue and Jake O'Donnell
Game 6:Darell Garretson and Don Murphy
Game 7Jack Madden and Earl Strom
Hall of FamersSuperSonics:
Dennis Johnson (2010)
Jack Sikma (2019)
Bullets:
Elvin Hayes (1990)
Wes Unseld (1988)
Coaches:
Lenny Wilkens (1989, player/1998, coach)
Officials:
Darell Garretson (2016)
Earl Strom (1995)
Eastern FinalsBullets defeat 76ers, 4–2
Western FinalsSuperSonics defeat Nuggets, 4–2

Background

Seattle SuperSonics

The Seattle SuperSonics had a disappointing start to the season, going 5–17 to begin with. Bob Hopkins, who replaced former Boston Celtics center Bill Russell as coach, was fired and Lenny Wilkens returned for a second tour of duty. The Sonics were led by center Jack Sikma, forwards Fred Brown, Paul Silas and John Johnson, and guards Dennis Johnson and Gus Williams. With Wilkens' experience being a key factor, the Sonics turned their season around, finishing with 47 wins and the fourth seed in the West. In the playoffs, they defeated the Los Angeles Lakers in a three-game miniseries, then upset the top-seeded and defending champion Portland Trail Blazers (who lost center Bill Walton in the second game of the series) in six games, before announcing their finals debut with a six-game win over the Denver Nuggets.

Washington Bullets

The Washington Bullets franchise made the Finals twice before in the 1970s, but were swept on both occasions, first by the Milwaukee Bucks in 1971 when they were still in Baltimore, and then by the Cinderella Golden State Warriors in 1975. The Bullets kept some of the personnel from that 1975 team, including All-Stars Wes Unseld and Elvin Hayes, but Dick Motta was now in his second year of coaching duty. The Bullets struggled with injuries during the season, but managed to finish with 44 wins, good for the third seed in the East. In the playoffs, the Bullets disposed the Atlanta Hawks in a two-game first round series, then ousted the San Antonio Spurs in six games, before making the finals again with a six-game win over the defending Eastern Conference champion Philadelphia 76ers.

From a KENS-TV Spurs broadcast in the San Antonio series after Washington took a 3-1 lead, Motta adopted the expression "The 'opera' isn't over 'til the fat lady sings" to warn Bullets fans against braggadocio. Motta also used an upbeat ostinato, "Wait for the fat lady!", to encourage the fans.

Road to the Finals

Seattle SuperSonics (Western Conference champion) Washington Bullets (Eastern Conference champion)
# Western Conference
Team W L PCT GB
1 z-Portland Trail Blazers 58 24 .707
2 y-Denver Nuggets 48 34 .585 10
3 x-Phoenix Suns 49 33 .598 9
4 x-Seattle SuperSonics 47 35 .573 11
5 x-Los Angeles Lakers 45 37 .549 13
6 x-Milwaukee Bucks 44 38 .537 14
7 Golden State Warriors 43 39 .524 15
8 Chicago Bulls 40 42 .488 18
9 Detroit Pistons 38 44 .463 20
10 Indiana Pacers 31 51 .378 27
11 Kansas City Kings 31 51 .378 27


4th seed in the West, 6th best league record

Regular season
# Eastern Conference
Team W L PCT GB
1 z-Philadelphia 76ers 55 27 .671
2 y-San Antonio Spurs 52 30 .634 3
3 x-Washington Bullets 44 38 .537 11
4 x-Cleveland Cavaliers 43 39 .524 12
5 x-New York Knicks 43 39 .524 12
6 x-Atlanta Hawks 41 41 .500 14
7 New Orleans Jazz 39 43 .476 16
8 Boston Celtics 32 50 .390 23
9 Houston Rockets 28 54 .341 27
10 Buffalo Braves 27 55 .329 28
11 New Jersey Nets 24 58 .293 31


3rd seed in the East, 9th best league record

Defeated the (5) Los Angeles Lakers, 2–1 First Round Defeated the (6) Atlanta Hawks, 2–0
Defeated the (1) Portland Trail Blazers, 4–2 Conference Semifinals Defeated the (2) San Antonio Spurs, 4–2
Defeated the (2) Denver Nuggets, 4–2 Conference Finals Defeated the (1) Philadelphia 76ers, 4–2

Regular season series

Washington won the regular season series 3–1.

November 15, 1977
Seattle SuperSonics 109, Washington Bullets 111
December 18, 1977
Washington Bullets 109, Seattle SuperSonics 111
February 8, 1978
Washington Bullets 106, Seattle SuperSonics 100
March 14, 1978
Seattle SuperSonics 115, Washington Bullets 120

Series summary

Game Date Home Team Result Road Team
Game 1 May 21 Seattle 106–102 Washington
Game 2 May 25 Washington 106–98 Seattle
Game 3 May 28 Washington 92–93 Seattle
Game 4 May 30 Seattle 116–120 (OT) Washington
Game 5 June 2 Seattle 98–94 Washington
Game 6 June 4 Washington 117–82 Seattle
Game 7 June 7 Seattle 99–105 Washington

Bullets win series 4–3

Game 1

May 21
12:00 p.m. PDT
Washington Bullets 102, Seattle SuperSonics 106
Scoring by quarter: 31–25, 27–24, 26–24, 18–33
Pts: Grevey 27
Rebs: Hayes 9
Asts: Henderson 7
Pts: Brown 30
Rebs: Webster 14
Asts: Johnson 5
Seattle leads the series, 1–0
Seattle Center Coliseum, Seattle
Attendance: 14,098
Referees:
  • No. 10 Darell Garretson
  • No. 17 Ed Rush

The Bullets, behind Kevin Grevey's 27 and Elvin Hayes's 21 points, held a 19-point lead in the fourth quarter at the Seattle Center Coliseum. But, the Sonics staged a comeback in front of the home crowd, led by "instant offense" guard Fred Brown. Brown scored 16 points in the last nine minutes to finish with 32 and give the SuperSonics the win.[1]

Game 2

May 25
9:00 p.m. EDT
Seattle SuperSonics 98, Washington Bullets 106
Scoring by quarter: 16–29, 36–27, 19–24, 27–26
Pts: Williams 24
Rebs: Webster 12
Asts: Johnson, Silas, Williams 4
Pts: Dandridge 34
Rebs: Unseld 15
Asts: Henderson, Unseld 5
Series tied, 1–1
Capital Centre, Landover, Maryland
Attendance: 19,035
Referees:
  • No. 7 Joe Gushue
  • No. 11 Jake O'Donnell

In an unusual 1-2-2-1-1 scheduling format, the next two games were played at the Capital Centre, the Bullets' home floor. Wes Unseld defended inside on Marvin Webster and Jack Sikma, pulled down 15 rebounds, and handed out five assists. This work enabled Bob Dandridge to score 34 points and Elvin Hayes 25 as the Bullets evened the series, winning their first NBA Finals game following nine consecutive losses.[2]

Game 3

May 28
1:30 p.m. EDT
Seattle SuperSonics 93, Washington Bullets 92
Scoring by quarter: 24–24, 25–23, 20–20, 24–25
Pts: Webster, Williams 20
Rebs: Silas 14
Asts: Brown, Johnson, Sikma, Webster, Williams 2
Pts: Hayes 29
Rebs: Hayes 20
Asts: Dandridge 6
Seattle leads the series, 2–1
Capital Centre, Landover, Maryland
Attendance: 19,035
Referees:
  • No. 12 Earl Strom
  • No. 9 John Vanak

Dennis Johnson was superb on defense, blocking seven shots and holding Kevin Grevey to 1-for-14 shooting. Paul Silas, the SuperSonics' veteran leader off the bench, helped shut down the Bullets' big men.

With 10 seconds remaining and the SuperSonics leading 93-90, Johnson's inbounds pass was stolen by Tom Henderson, who scored to make it 93-92 with five seconds left. Silas then stepped on the baseline trying to make the subsequent inbounds pass, turning the ball over to the Bullets. Bob Dandridge missed at the buzzer, however, and the SuperSonics picked up a victory on the road.[3]

Game 4

May 30
6:00 p.m. PDT
Washington Bullets 120, Seattle SuperSonics 116 (OT)
Scoring by quarter: 23–25, 25–31, 30–31, 28–19, Overtime: 14–10
Pts: Dandrigde 23
Rebs: Hayes 13
Asts: Henderson 11
Pts: Johnson 33
Rebs: Webster 15
Asts: Silas 6
Series tied, 2–2
Kingdome, Seattle
Attendance: 39,457
Referees:
  • No. 14 Jack Madden
  • No. 6 Don Murphy

Game 4 was held in the Seattle Kingdome because the Seattle Center Coliseum was tied up with a mobile-home show. As a result, the Bullets had to contend with a then-record playoff crowd of over 39,000 fans.

The SuperSonics led by 15 with two minutes left in the third quarter. At this point, the Bullet guards, who had been victimized all series by Gus Williams and emerging star Dennis Johnson, started to assert themselves, especially reserves Charles Johnson and Larry Wright.

At the start of the final period, Dennis Johnson was elbowed hard in the ribs and left the game for a short time. With Charles Johnson, Wright, Mitch Kupchak and Bob Dandridge in the lineup, the Bullets stormed back and took a 103-101 lead with about 3½ minutes left in the game. Dennis Johnson then returned and went on a barrage, scoring first to tie the game, blocking a Dandridge shot, getting an offensive rebound, and pushing the Sonics to a 104-103 lead with a foul shot. Johnson would finish with 33 points, seven rebounds and three blocks.

Dandridge answered with a three-point play that returned the lead to Washington, 106-104. Seattle got the ball back and tied it with "instant offense" Fred Brown's jumper from "downtown". With two seconds left, Dandridge got a good shot in the lane, only to have Johnson block it, forcing overtime. But then, Charles Johnson became an instant hero by hitting three quick shots in overtime to give the Bullets a 120-116 win. The Bullets had tied the series at two wins apiece.[4]

Game 5

June 2
6:00 p.m. PDT
Washington Bullets 94, Seattle SuperSonics 98
Scoring by quarter: 24–23, 17–29, 26–24, 27–22
Pts: Grevey 22
Rebs: Dandridge 10
Asts: Henderson 6
Pts: Brown 26
Rebs: Webster 13
Asts: Johnson 7
Seattle leads the series, 3–2
Seattle Center Coliseum, Seattle
Attendance: 14,098
Referees:
  • No. 7 Joe Gushue
  • No. 11 Jake O'Donnell

The SuperSonics returned to the Seattle Center Coliseum and eked out a close win. "Downtown" Freddie Brown had 26 points and Dennis Johnson 24 to carry Seattle to a 98-94 win and the series lead. The Bullets lost it at the line, making only 9 of 20 free throws in the second half. Even so, they cut Seattle's 11-point lead to two with less than two minutes to go before Jack Sikma hit three free throws down the stretch.[5]

Game 6

June 4
1:30 p.m. EDT
Seattle SuperSonics 82, Washington Bullets 117
Scoring by quarter: 21–19, 14–28, 26–37, 21–33
Pts: Brown 17
Rebs: Webster 12
Asts: Williams 6
Pts: Hayes 21
Rebs: Hayes 15
Asts: Ballard 6
Series tied, 3–3
Capital Centre, Landover, Maryland
Attendance: 19,035
Referees:
  • No. 10 Darell Garretson
  • No. 6 Don Murphy

Game 6, in Washington, was all Bullets, 117-82. With the Washington backcourt continuing to struggle, Bullets coach Dick Motta inserted Greg Ballard at forward and moved Bob Dandridge to guard, a risky move considering Dandridge had played very little guard. Ballard and Dandridge produced a run that gave the Bullets a 12-point lead at the half. Washington scored 70 points in the second half, and the SuperSonics weren't up to that pace. Mitch Kupchak added 19 points, and Ballard had 12 points and 12 rebounds. The 35-point margin of victory was an NBA Finals record that stood until the 1998 NBA Finals Game 3 (96-54, 42 points).[6]

Game 7

June 7
6:00 p.m. PDT
Washington Bullets 105, Seattle SuperSonics 99
Scoring by quarter: 31–28, 22–17, 26–21, 26–33
Pts: Dandridge, Johnson 19
Rebs: Unseld 9
Asts: Unseld 6
Pts: Webster 27
Rebs: Webster 19
Asts: Williams 5
Washington wins the series 4–3
Seattle Center Coliseum, Seattle
Attendance: 14,098
Referees:
  • No. 14 Jack Madden
  • No. 12 Earl Strom

Dennis Johnson, who before the 1977-78 playoffs was a relatively unknown guard from Pepperdine University, had grown into a star in this series in front of a national TV audience. However, DJ would miss every one of his 14 shots in this game. Fellow guard Gus Williams was a bit more accurate, shooting 4-for-12. SuperSonics big men Marvin Webster scored 27 points and Jack Sikma 21 to take up the slack, and that kept it close.

With 90 seconds left, Seattle whittled the lead from 11 points down to four, but Mitch Kupchak came up with a three-point play. Fred Brown, who finished with 21 points off the bench, hit a short jumper, then Paul Silas got a tip-in to cut it to 101-99. Silas then fouled Wes Unseld, a 55-percent shooter from the line during the playoffs. He hit two free throws, and moments later Washington sealed it with a Bob Dandridge dunk, 105-99.

Charles Johnson and Dandridge each scored 19 points for the Bullets, while Elvin Hayes fouled out with 12 points, a development that brought a couple of needling questions from the writers about his past failures in the playoffs and Hayes' cheerful comeback "Whatever else they can say about me, they also got to say E's a world champion. E wears the ring." Unseld would be named Finals MVP.[7]

After the climactic Game 7 victory, Motta celebrated with his team wearing a beer-soaked The Opera Isn't Over 'Til The Fat Lady Sings T-shirt. He said, "What made the championship so great was that we weren’t supposed to win it. We came a long way. Most people didn’t give us a chance, but I felt all along we could. I really did."[8]

Player statistics

Legend
  GP Games played   GS  Games started  MPG  Minutes per game
 FG%  Field-goal percentage  3P%  3-point field-goal percentage  FT%  Free-throw percentage
 RPG  Rebounds per game  APG  Assists per game  SPG  Steals per game
 BPG  Blocks per game  PPG  Points per game
Washington Bullets
Player GP GS MPG FG% 3FG% FT% RPG APG SPG BPG PPG
Seattle SuperSonics
Player GP GS MPG FG% 3FG% FT% RPG APG SPG BPG PPG

Broadcasting

Television coverage

Nationwide TV coverage of the 1978 NBA finals was broadcast by CBS Sports, with Brent Musburger (All Games) on play-by-play and Rick Barry (All Games), Steve Jones (Game 1), recently retired John Havlicek (Games 2, 4 and 7), Gus Johnson (Game 3) and Keith Erickson (Games 4 and 5) on color commentary. Locally, the 1978 NBA Finals was broadcast by CBS affiliates: WTOP-TV in Washington, D.C. and KIRO-TV in Seattle, Washington.

National coverage

Nationwide radio coverage of the 1978 NBA Finals was broadcast by Mutual, with Tony Roberts on play-by-play and Hubie Brown on color commentary.

Local market coverage

The flagship stations of each station of each team carried their local play-by-play calls. In Washington, D.C., WTOP-AM carried the series, with Frank Herzog on play-by-play. In Seattle, KOMO–AM, carried the series with Bob Blackburn on play-by-play.

Aftermath

The NBA received much criticism over the fact that the seven-game series was stretched out over eighteen days, presumably for television; it remains the longest (in total number of days) playoff series ever played in any sport. (Even the 1989 World Series, interrupted for ten days by an earthquake, lasted only fifteen days.)

Both teams made it back to the finals the following season, with the Bullets holding home court advantage. That season the Bullets won 54 games while the Sonics won 52. The Bullets eliminated the Atlanta Hawks (4-3) and San Antonio Spurs (4-3) to advance while the Sonics eliminated the Los Angeles Lakers (4-1) and the Phoenix Suns (4-3). The Bullets appeared to have momentum with a Game 1 victory at the Capital Centre, but the Sonics took the next four games to win their only NBA championship.

The next time a road team won a Game 7 in the finals would be in 2016, when the Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Golden State Warriors at Oakland.

Team rosters

Washington Bullets

Washington Bullets roster
Players Coaches
Pos. No. Name Height Weight DOB (YYYY-MM-DD) From
F 42 Ballard, Greg 6 ft 7 in (2.01 m) 215 lb (98 kg) Oregon
G 45 Chenier, Phil 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m) 180 lb (82 kg) California
SF 10 Dandridge, Bob 6 ft 6 in (1.98 m) 195 lb (88 kg) Norfolk State
F 35 Grevey, Kevin 6 ft 5 in (1.96 m) 210 lb (95 kg) Kentucky
G 14 Henderson, Tom 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m) 190 lb (86 kg) Hawaiʻi
C 11 Hayes, Elvin 6 ft 9 in (2.06 m) 235 lb (107 kg) Houston
PF 25 Kupchak, Mitch 6 ft 9 in (2.06 m) 230 lb (104 kg) North Carolina
G 15 Johnson, Charles 6 ft 0 in (1.83 m) 170 lb (77 kg) California
C 44 Pace, Joe 6 ft 10 in (2.08 m) 220 lb (100 kg) Coppin State
F 41 Unseld, Wes 6 ft 7 in (2.01 m) 245 lb (111 kg) Louisville
G 32 Wright, Larry 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m) 160 lb (73 kg) Grambling State
Head coach

Legend
  • (C) Team captain
  • (DP) Unsigned draft pick
  • (FA) Free agent
  • (S) Suspended
  • Injured Injured

Seattle SuperSonics

Seattle SuperSonics roster
Players Coaches
Pos. No. Name Height Weight DOB (YYYY-MM-DD) From
G 32 Brown, Fred 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m) 182 lb (83 kg) 1948–08–07 Iowa
F 30 Fleming, Al 6 ft 7 in (2.01 m) 215 lb (98 kg) 1954–04–05 Arizona
G 10 Hassett, Joe 6 ft 5 in (1.96 m) 180 lb (82 kg) 1955–09–11 Providence
G 24 Johnson, Dennis 6 ft 4 in (1.93 m) 185 lb (84 kg) 1954–09–18 Pepperdine
F 27 Johnson, John 6 ft 7 in (2.01 m) 200 lb (91 kg) 1947–10–18 Iowa
F 45 Seals, Bruce 6 ft 8 in (2.03 m) 210 lb (95 kg) 1953–06–18 Xavier (Louisiana)
F/C 43 Sikma, Jack 6 ft 11 in (2.11 m) 230 lb (104 kg) 1955–11–14 Illinois Wesleyan
F/C 35 Silas, Paul 6 ft 7 in (2.01 m) 220 lb (100 kg) 1943–07–12 Creighton
F 42 Walker, Wally 6 ft 7 in (2.01 m) 190 lb (86 kg) 1954–07–18 Virginia
C 40 Webster, Marvin 7 ft 1 in (2.16 m) 225 lb (102 kg) 1952–04–13 Morgan State
G 1 Williams, Gus 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m) 175 lb (79 kg) 1953–10–10 Southern California
Head coach

Legend
  • (C) Team captain
  • (DP) Unsigned draft pick
  • (FA) Free agent
  • (S) Suspended
  • Injured Injured

See also

References

  1. ^ "1978 NBA Finals – Game 1". Retrieved 18 October 2016.
  2. ^ "1978 NBA Finals – Game 2". Retrieved 18 October 2016.
  3. ^ "1978 NBA Finals – Game 3". Retrieved 18 October 2016.
  4. ^ "1978 NBA Finals – Game 4". Retrieved 18 October 2016.
  5. ^ "1978 NBA Finals – Game 5". Retrieved 18 October 2016.
  6. ^ "1978 NBA Finals – Game 6". Retrieved 18 October 2016.
  7. ^ "1978 NBA Finals – Game 7". Retrieved 18 October 2016.
  8. ^ "When Washington Went to the Opera". Retrieved 8 April 2003.

External links

1978–79 Seattle SuperSonics season

The 1978–79 Seattle SuperSonics season was the team's 12th since the franchise began, and their most successful, winning their only NBA title.

In the playoffs, the SuperSonics defeated the Los Angeles Lakers in five games in the Semifinals, then defeated the Phoenix Suns in seven games in the Conference Finals to reach the NBA Finals for a second consecutive season, in a rematch of the 1978 NBA Finals, facing the defending NBA champion Washington Bullets, whom they had lost to in seven games. The Sonics would go on to avenge their NBA Finals loss and defeat the Bullets in five games, winning their first and only NBA championship. Dennis Johnson was named the NBA Finals MVP.

This was Seattle's first professional sports championship since the Seattle Metropolitans victory in the Stanley Cup in 1917.

1979 NBA Finals

The 1979 NBA World Championship Series was the championship series played at the conclusion of the National Basketball Association (NBA)'s 1978–79 season. The Western Conference champion Seattle SuperSonics played the Eastern Conference champion Washington Bullets, with the Bullets holding home-court advantage, due to a better regular season record. The SuperSonics defeated the Bullets 4 games to 1. The series was a rematch of the 1978 NBA Finals, which the Washington Bullets had won 4–3.

Dennis Johnson of the SuperSonics was named as the NBA Finals MVP, while Gus Williams of the SuperSonics was the top scorer, averaging 28.6 points per game.

This was Seattle's second men's professional sports championship, following the Seattle Metropolitans' Stanley Cup victory in the 1917 Stanley Cup Finals.

Coincidentally, this series (along with the 1978 NBA Finals) was informally known as the George Washington series, because both teams were playing in places named after the first President of the United States (the SuperSonics represented Seattle, the most populous city in the state of Washington, and the Bullets represented Washington, D.C., albeit playing in nearby Landover, Maryland).

This is the most recent time that a Western Conference team based outside of Texas or California has won an NBA title, and the last of only two occasions alongside the 1976–77 Portland Trail Blazers when a team from the present-day Northwest Division has won the league title, which is by 26 years the longest league championship drought for any division of the four major North American sports leagues. Since then, the following Western teams have gone on to win an NBA title: the Los Angeles Lakers (ten times), the San Antonio Spurs (five times), the Golden State Warriors (three times), the Houston Rockets (twice), and the Dallas Mavericks (once). The remaining eighteen titles since 1980 have been won by Eastern Conference teams.

Charles Johnson (basketball, born 1949)

Charles Johnson (March 31, 1949 – June 1, 2007) was an American professional basketball player for the Golden State Warriors and the Washington Bullets of the National Basketball Association. He was an alumnus of Sequoia High School and then scored 1,000 points in three years at the University of California, Berkeley.

The San Francisco Warriors drafted Johnson in the 6th round of the 1971 NBA draft. The 6-foot-0, 170-pound guard played with the Warriors for five seasons and part of a sixth until he was waived in early January 1978. Johnson was a member of the 1974/75 Warriors Championship Team.

After his release, Johnson was signed by the Washington Bullets in January, 1978, after a season-ending injury to Phil Chenier. Johnson averaged 8.3 points, 2.4 rebounds and 2.1 assists as a member of the 1977–78 NBA Championship.

Elvin Hayes attributed the Bullets championship run to the acquisition of Johnson. In the last four games of the 1978 NBA finals against the Seattle SuperSonics, Johnson scored 80 points and helped Washington win the series 4 games to 3. The Bullets topped the Atlanta Hawks, San Antonio Spurs and Philadelphia 76ers to reach the championship round.

Johnson died of cancer on June 1, 2007, aged 58.

Dennis Johnson

Dennis Wayne Johnson (September 18, 1954 – February 22, 2007), nicknamed "DJ", was an American professional basketball player for the National Basketball Association's (NBA) Seattle SuperSonics, Phoenix Suns and Boston Celtics and coach of the Los Angeles Clippers. He was an alumnus of Dominguez High School, Los Angeles Harbor College and Pepperdine University.A prototypical late bloomer, Johnson overcame early struggles and had a successful NBA playing career. Drafted 29th overall in 1976 by the Seattle SuperSonics, Johnson began his professional career as a shooting guard. He eventually led the Sonics to their only NBA championship in 1979, winning the Finals MVP Award. After a short stint with the Phoenix Suns, he became the starting point guard for the Boston Celtics, with whom he won two more championships. Johnson was voted into five All-Star Teams, one All-NBA First and one Second Team, and nine consecutive All-Defensive First and Second Teams. Apart from his reputation as a defensive stopper, Johnson was known as a clutch player who made several decisive plays in NBA playoffs history.The Celtics franchise has retired Johnson's #3 jersey, which hangs from the rafters of the TD Garden, the home arena of the team. On April 5, 2010, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame officially announced that Johnson had been posthumously elected to the Hall. He was formally inducted on August 13. He is considered by several sports journalists to be one of the most underrated players of all time.

Dick Motta

John Richard Motta (born September 3, 1931) is an American former basketball coach whose career in the National Basketball Association (NBA) spanned 25 years, and he continues to rank among the NBA's all-time top 10 in coaching victories.

Greg Ballard (basketball)

Gregory Ballard (January 29, 1955 – November 9, 2016) was an American professional basketball player and NBA assistant coach. A collegiate All-American at Oregon, Ballard averaged 12.4 points and 6.1 rebounds over an eleven season NBA career with the Washington Bullets, Golden State Warriors and briefly, the Seattle Supersonics.

Jack Madden

Jack Madden is a retired professional basketball referee. Born in Winnipeg, MB Madden's career accomplishments included officiating in the 1970 NBA All-Star Game, 1975 ABA All-Star Game, 1978 NBA Finals, 1979 NBA All-Star Game, 1980 NBA Finals, 1981 NBA Finals, 1984 NBA Finals, 1986 NBA All-Star Game, 1989 NBA Finals, 1990 NBA Finals, 1991 NBA Finals and 1993 NBA All-Star Game.

Madden broke his leg officiating a 1985 game between the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers.

Lenny Wilkens

Leonard Randolph Wilkens (born October 28, 1937) is an American former basketball player and coach in the National Basketball Association (NBA). He has been inducted three times into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, first in 1989 as a player, as a coach in 1998, and in 2010 as part of the 1992 United States Olympic "Dream Team", for which he was an assistant coach. He is also a 2006 inductee into the College Basketball Hall of Fame.

Wilkens was a combined 13-time NBA All-Star as a player (nine times) and as a head coach (four times), was the 1993 NBA Coach of the Year, won the 1979 NBA Championship as the head coach of the Seattle SuperSonics, and an Olympic gold medal as the head coach of the 1996 U.S. men's basketball team.

During the 1994–95 season, Wilkens set the record for most coaching wins in NBA history, a record he held when he retired with 1,332 victories. Wilkens is now second on the list behind Don Nelson, who broke it in 2010. He won the Chuck Daly Lifetime Achievement Award for the 2010–11 NBA season. Wilkens is also the most prolific coach in NBA history, at 2,487 regular season games, 89 more games than Nelson, and over 400 more than any other coach, and has more losses than any other coach in NBA history, at 1,155.

List of University of Houston people

The list of University of Houston people includes notable alumni, former students, and faculty of the University of Houston. Class years usually indicate the year of a graduation unless an entry is denoted by an asterisk (*). In this case, the student did not graduate from the university, and the class year indicates the last known year a former student attended. In the case of alumni with multiple graduation years, the earliest graduation year is shown.

List of Washington Wizards head coaches

The Washington Wizards are an American professional basketball team based in Washington, D.C. They are a member of the Southeast Division of the Eastern Conference in the National Basketball Association (NBA). The team plays its home games at the Capital One Arena (formerly the MCI Center and the Verizon Center). The franchise was established in Chicago, Illinois as the Chicago Packers in 1961; after one season, its name was changed to the Chicago Zephyrs. In 1963, the franchise moved to Baltimore, Maryland and was renamed the Baltimore Bullets. It moved to Landover, Maryland in 1973 and changed its name to the Capital Bullets. After one season, the team became the Washington Bullets. In 1978, the Bullets won the 1978 NBA Finals in seven games for the franchise's only championship. In 1997, the team became the Washington Wizards, which is the team's current name. Since their formation, the Wizards have won six divisional championships, four conference championships, one league championship and have appeared in the playoffs twenty-three times.There have been 23 head coaches for the Wizards franchise. The franchise's first coach was Jim Pollard, who led the team for one season. Dick Motta is the only Wizards coach to have led the team to a championship; the team won the 1978 NBA Finals as the Washington Bullets during his tenure. Gene Shue is the only Wizards coach to have won the NBA Coach of the Year Award; he won it twice, in 1969 and 1982. No Wizards coach has been elected into the Basketball Hall of Fame as a coach, but four have been elected into the Hall of Fame as a player: Jim Pollard, Buddy Jeannette, K. C. Jones and Wes Unseld. Shue is the franchise's all-time leader in regular-season games coached (1027) and wins (522); Jones is the franchise's all-time leader in regular-season winning percentage (.630). Dick Motta is the franchise's all-time leader in playoff games coached (51) and wins (27), as well as playoff-game winning percentage (.529). Five Wizards coaches have spent their entire NBA head coaching career with the team: Mike Farmer, Bob Staak, Jim Brovelli, Leonard Hamilton and Ed Tapscott. Scott Brooks is the current coach.

List of players in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame

The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, located in Springfield, Massachusetts, honors players who have shown exceptional skill at basketball, all-time great coaches, referees, and other major contributors to the sport. It is named after Dr. James Naismith, who conceived the sport in 1891; he was inducted into the Hall as a contributor in 1959. The Player category has existed since the beginning of the Hall of Fame. For a person to be eligible on the ballot for Hall of Fame honors as a player, he or she must be fully retired for three years. If a player retired for a short period, then "his/her case and eligibility is reviewed on an individual basis".

As part of the inaugural class of 1959, four players were inducted; over 150 more individuals have been inducted as players since then. Four players have also been inducted as coaches: John Wooden in 1973, Lenny Wilkens in 1998, Bill Sharman in 2004, and Tom Heinsohn in 2015.

Of the inducted players, 25 were also members of teams that have been inducted into the Hall as units.

Henry "Dutch" Dehnert, Nat Holman, and Joe Lapchick were members of the Original Celtics.

William "Pop" Gates and John Isaacs were members of the New York Renaissance. The induction category of another former player for the team, Nathaniel "Sweetwater" Clifton, is subject to dispute; he was originally announced as a contributor, but is now listed with player inductees by the Hall.

Marques Haynes and Reece "Goose" Tatum were two of the most famous players of the Harlem Globetrotters. Three other players who made their greatest contributions with other teams—Wilt Chamberlain, Connie Hawkins, and Lynette Woodard—were members of the Globetrotters at some point in their professional careers. Furthermore, longtime member Meadowlark Lemon has been inducted as a contributor, and the aforementioned Clifton, who briefly played for the team, is (depending on definitions) a member as either a player or contributor.

Walt Bellamy, Jerry Lucas, Oscar Robertson, and Jerry West were members of the 1960 United States Olympic Team.

Charles Barkley, Larry Bird, Clyde Drexler, Patrick Ewing, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Karl Malone, Chris Mullin, Scottie Pippen, David Robinson, and John Stockton were members of the 1992 United States Olympic Team, better known as the "Dream Team". In fact, all but one of the players on the "Dream Team" roster (Christian Laettner) have been inducted in the Hall of Fame as individuals.

NBA on CBS

The NBA on CBS is the branding that is used for weekly broadcasts of National Basketball Association (NBA) games produced by CBS Sports, the sports division of the CBS television network in the United States. CBS aired NBA games from the 1973–1974 NBA season (when it succeeded ABC Sports as the national broadcaster of the NBA) until the 1989–90 NBA season (when CBS was succeeded by NBC Sports).

Seattle SuperSonics

The Seattle SuperSonics, commonly known as the Sonics, were an American professional basketball team based in Seattle, Washington. The SuperSonics played in the National Basketball Association (NBA) as a member club of the league's Western Conference Pacific and Northwest divisions from 1967 until 2008. After the 2007–08 season ended, the team relocated to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and now plays as the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Sam Schulman owned the team from its 1967 inception until 1983. It was then owned by Barry Ackerley (1983–2001), and then Basketball Club of Seattle, headed by Starbucks chairman emeritus, former president and CEO Howard Schultz (2001–2006). On July 18, 2006, the Basketball Club of Seattle sold the SuperSonics and its Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) sister franchise Seattle Storm to the Professional Basketball Club LLC, headed by Oklahoma City businessman Clay Bennett. The sale was approved by the NBA Board of Governors on October 24, 2006, and finalized on October 31, 2006, at which point the new ownership group took control. After failing to find public funding to construct a new arena in the Seattle area, the SuperSonics moved to Oklahoma City before the 2008–09 season, following a $45 million settlement with the city of Seattle to pay off the team's existing lease at KeyArena at Seattle Center in advance of its 2010 expiration.Home games were played at KeyArena, originally known as Seattle Center Coliseum, for 33 of the franchise's 41 seasons in Seattle. In 1978, the team moved to the Kingdome, which was shared with the Seattle Mariners of Major League Baseball (MLB) and the Seattle Seahawks of the National Football League (NFL). They returned to the Coliseum full-time in 1985, moving temporarily to the Tacoma Dome in Tacoma, Washington, for the 1994–95 season while the Coliseum was renovated and rebranded as KeyArena.

The SuperSonics won the NBA championship in 1979. Overall, the franchise won three Western Conference titles: 1978, 1979, and 1996. The franchise also won six divisional titles, their last being in 2005, with five in the Pacific Division and one in the Northwest Division. Settlement terms of a lawsuit between the city of Seattle and Clay Bennett's ownership group stipulated the SuperSonics' banners, trophies, and retired jerseys remain in Seattle; the nickname, logo, and color scheme are available to any subsequent NBA team that plays at a renovated KeyArena subject to NBA approval. The SuperSonics' franchise history, however, would be shared with the Thunder.

Wes Unseld

Westley Sissel Unseld (born March 14, 1946) is an American former basketball player. He spent his entire NBA career with the Baltimore/Capital/Washington Bullets, and was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1988.

Wheedle

The Wheedle is the title character of a popular children's book by author Stephen Cosgrove. The character eventually evolved into a popular mascot generally associated with the city of Seattle.

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