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Originally published Thursday, July 10, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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A little history about Sonics' title team

Did you know? DJ and Gus Williams were late bloomers, Lonnie Shelton's sons followed in his athletic footsteps and the '79 title was the second for Wally Walker. This and other trivia about Seattle's NBA champions.

The Sonics captured the 1979 NBA title. You know the names, but here are some things you might not have known about the championship team.

Gus Williams: Didn't play basketball his first two years at Mount Vernon (N.Y.) High School, and was on the JV team his junior year.

Dennis Johnson: The '79 Finals MVP was one of 16 children. And, like Williams, also a late bloomer. He was just 5 feet 9 in high school, and played two years at a junior college then drove a forklift for a year before going to Pepperdine.

Jack Sikma: In the 1980s, donated money to help Olympic speed skater Bonnie Blair, whose brother was a fraternity brother of Sikma's at Illinois Wesleyan.

Lonnie Shelton: Son Marlon played basketball at Washington; sons Titus and Tim play now at Cal Poly and San Diego State; son L.J. is an offensive tackle for the San Diego Chargers.

John Johnson: Was a teammate of Fred Brown at Iowa. Both were JC transfers recruited to Iowa by coach Ralph Miller, who left for Oregon State after the Hawkeyes' unbeaten Big Ten season in 1970.

Fred Brown: They didn't call him "Downtown" for nothing. The NBA adopted the three-point shot in 1979-80, and Brown led the league in shooting percentage behind the line (44.3 percent).

Tom LaGarde: Since his NBA career ended, LaGarde has worked on Wall Street, served as commissioner of the National In-Line Basketball League and owned a wood and architectural salvage company near Chapel Hill, N.C., where he played for the Tar Heels.

Wally Walker: This was the second NBA title in three years for Walker, who was known as "Wally Who" as a rookie in Portland when the Trail Blazers won the championship in 1977.

Paul Silas: Averaged more than 20 points and 20 rebounds during his career at Creighton University.

Lars Hansen: The 15 games Hansen played for the Sonics in 1978-79 was the entirety of his NBA career. Born in Copenhagen, Denmark and raised in Coquitlam, B.C., Hansen played for the Washington Huskies. He played for the Canadian team in the 1976 Olympics, and played in Italy and Spain after his very brief NBA career.

Joe Hassett: Returned to Providence, where he was a college star, and has been a commentator on Providence basketball radio broadcasts.

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Jackie Robinson: Played 12 games for Sonics, just 22 games in NBA career, then returned to Las Vegas, where he was involved in several business ventures. He is a member of the UNLV Hall of Fame.

Dick Snyder: The 1978-79 season was Snyder's second stint with the Sonics. He had been a starter for the Sonics from 1969-74, then spent four years in Cleveland before returning to the Sonics in a limited role.

Dennis Awtrey: By the time the backup center arrived in Seattle, he was well known for fights on the court with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Dave Cowens and Bob Lanier.

Bill Reader

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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