Neha Patil (Editor)

1979 NBA Finals

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Dates  May 20–June 1
Radio network  KIRO (SEA) WJMD (WSB)
Start date  May 20, 1979
Television  CBS (U.S.)
Champion  Seattle Supersonics
1979 NBA Finals NBA Finals 1979SuperSonics vs Bullets by DevilDog360 on DeviantArt
MVP  Dennis Johnson (Seattle SuperSonics)
Announcers  Brent Musburger, Rick Barry, and Rod Hundley
Game 1:  Darell Garretson, Ed T. Rush, and Ed Middleton
Similar  1978 NBA Finals, 1980 NBA Finals, 1975 NBA Finals, 1983 NBA Finals, 1981 NBA Finals

The 1979 NBA World Championship Series was the championship series played at the conclusion of the 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.


1979 NBA Finals 1979 NBA Season Underrated Rematch The NBA History

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.

1979 NBA Finals 1979 NBA Playoff Bracket NBA Finals Results

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

1979 NBA Finals imgbleacherreportnetimgimagesphotos0027378

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).

1979 NBA Finals 12 Greatest NBA Finals Rematches Total Pro Sports


1979 NBA Finals 1979 NBA Season Underrated Rematch The NBA History

This was a rematch of the 1978 NBA Finals, which the Bullets won 4–3. Seattle made a key offseason trade sending Marvin Webster to the New York Knicks for Lonnie Shelton. Other than that, both teams' rosters stayed virtually intact. Unlike the previous year, both teams finished 1-2 in the NBA, with the Bullets topping the league at 54 wins; the Sonics with 52 wins. In the playoffs, Seattle defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 4–1 and the Phoenix Suns 4–3, while Washington had a much tougher road, eliminating the Atlanta Hawks in an unexpectedly tough seven-game series and coming back from a 3-1 deficit to eliminate the San Antonio Spurs in seven. Both earned a first-round bye.

Regular season series

Both teams split the four-game series in the regular season:

Game 1

1979 NBA Finals Gus Williams 23 poins 1979 NBA Finals Game 5 YouTube

The Bullets controlled the game and led by 18 in the fourth, but Seattle mounted a furious comeback to tie it at 97. Larry Wright, who had 26 points off the bench, drove to the basket as time ran down and had his shot blocked by Dennis Johnson, but the referees called a foul on Johnson. Wright went to the line with one second left and hit two of three foul shots (NBA rules at the time awarded an extra free throw attempt when a team was in the penalty foul situation) to win the game.

Game 2

Elvin Hayes had 11 points in the first quarter, but only nine the rest of the way as Seattle turned its defense up a notch, holding the Bullets to 30 points in the second half.

Game 3

Seattle dominated this game, which wasn't as close as the final margin indicated. Gus Williams scored 31 points, Jack Sikma had 21 and 17 rebounds, and Dennis Johnson had a fine all-around game with 17 points, 9 rebounds, and two blocked shots.

Game 4

The Sonics won a close one in OT 114–112, staving off a late Bullets comeback behind 36 points by Gus Williams and 32 by Dennis Johnson. Williams and Johnson dominated the Bullets' guards all series, as they were plagued by poor shooting. Johnson also had four blocks in the game, the last on Kevin Grevey with 4 seconds left to ensure the Seattle victory.

Game 5

Back home, Elvin Hayes had a hot first half, scoring 20, but injuries to starting guards Tom Henderson, Kevin Grevey and prolonged poor shooting by their replacements took their toll. Hayes had only nine points in the second half as Seattle closed out the series.

Player statistics

Seattle SuperSonics
Washington Bullets


Neither team made it back to the Finals the following season. The Bullets (39–43) were eliminated in the first round by the Philadelphia 76ers, while the SuperSonics (56–26) lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in the Conference Finals. Both the 76ers and Lakers faced off in the 1980 NBA Finals, a 4–2 Lakers win. Dick Motta, the Bullets coach, departed to take over the expansion Dallas Mavericks in the 1980–81 NBA season, while the SuperSonics traded 1979 Finals MVP Dennis Johnson for Paul Westphal, which hastened their downfall. Wes Unseld retired after the season, and Elvin Hayes concluded his final three NBA seasons with the team he started with, the Rockets. Lenny Wilkens would not make the finals again for the remainder of his coaching career; the closest he would advance was in the 1992 conference finals with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

As of the 2015–16 NBA season this remains the last Finals appearance, and indeed the last Conference Finals appearance, for the Bullets/Wizards franchise. The SuperSonics would not return until 1996. That would be their last Finals appearance in Seattle, since they relocated to Oklahoma City in 2008 and were renamed as the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Thunder played in the 2012 NBA Finals, where they lost to the Miami Heat in 5 games.


1979 NBA Finals Wikipedia

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