George Karl: 1996 Sonics Were Top 20 Team in NBA History
If you’re scratching your head right now thinking that’s a pretty bold statement, you’re not alone. When you think of the best teams in NBA history you immediately think of the Bulls, Celtics, Lakers, and maybe the dominant 76ers or Bucks. But you probably don’t think of the Seattle Sonics.
Former coach George Karl thinks you should.
Karl was on hand for Sonics night at Safeco Field in Seattle Friday night and he joined Dave Sims in the broadcast booth on Root Sports. He was asked for his standout moment in Seattle and mentioned his ’95-’96 Sonics team.
“Playing in the championship round in the NBA Finals against Chicago and Michael’s team. I thought our team and their team should be in the Top 20 teams in NBA history even though we didn’t win a championship. They won 73 games and we won 64.
If Nate McMillan would have been healthy I thought it would have been a very equal series. The opportunity to play in the Finals is an honor and a privilege — it’s amazing how few people get to be in that situation.”
Seattle’s winning percentage that season was .780 which is tied for 19th best all-time. Shawn Kemp and Gary Payton were the stars of the team and both were in their prime. Detlef Schrempf, Hersey Hawkins, Sam Perkins, Vincent Askew, and Nate McMillan all saw big minutes for them as well.
While they certainly were a really good team, I wouldn’t consider them one of the best in NBA history. The Bulls, Lakers, Celtics, Rockets, and Spurs have all had better teams. I’d put the Bucks and Sixers championship teams ahead of them as well. Maybe Karl was just being overly sentimental during his return to Seattle. We know the love has been strong for the city lately.