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Saturday, November 01, 2003 - Page updated at 06:48 P.M.
Information in this article, originally published October 27, was corrected November 1. A previous version of this story contained an error. The birthdate of Paul Silas, a member of the Sonics 1979 championship team and now the coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers, is July 12, 1943. An incorrect birthdate for Silas was published in the NBA Preview special section.

Sonics
Where are they now? Championship Sonics remain near and far between


Front row, left to right: Trainer Frank Furtado, Dick Snyder, Jackie Robinson, Fred Brown, Joe Hassett, Dennis Johnson and Gus Williams. Back row, left to right: Coach Lenny Wilkens, Dennis Awtrey, Tom LaGarde, John Johnson, Lonnie Shelton, Paul Silas, Jack Sikma, Scout Mike Uporsky, GM Zollie Volchok and Asst. coach Les Habegger.

Note: Not pictured are players Wally Walker and Lars Hansen. Hansen and Jackie Robinson were with the team briefly, and are not included in the player bios on this page.

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Zollie Volchok

Position: General manager.

Born: Sept. 22, 1916, in Salem, Ore.

Residence: Mercer Island.

Occupation: Retired.

Family: Married 64 years to wife Sylvia. Three sons, Gary, Michael and Tony; 10 grandchildren, five great grandchildren.

Favorite Sonics memory: "Well, there's two. The first is the seventh game against Phoenix to decide who was going to be the Western champions (in 1979). We played it in the Kingdome and at the time, it was the biggest game ever. We had 37,552 watch that game. And we won, 114-110. Then I remember the sick feeling when we played the Bullets and lost the first game (of the '79 NBA Finals). That was the most nerve-wracking."

Last NBA season: Replaced by Les Habegger in 1983.

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Lenny Wilkens

Position: Coach and director of player personnel.

Born: Oct. 28, 1937, in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, N.Y.

Residence: Medina.

Occupation: Semiretired, speaker, basketball consultant.

Family: Wife, Marilyn; children Leesha, Randy and Jaime; grandchildren Ashley and Nicole.

Favorite Sonics memory: "When I came back (in 1977), I came back in the front office as director of player of personnel and the first thing I remember is I stopped the trade involving Fred Brown. I didn't think it was a good trade. Then we traded Tom Burleson to Denver for Willie Wise, Marvin Webster and Paul Silas. Gus Williams was a free agent and I convinced (owner) Sam Schulman that we should sign him. I picked John Johnson for a couple of second-round picks and before that season, we got Lonnie (Shelton). So the pieces were coming together."

Last NBA season: Released by the Toronto Raptors in April after three seasons as coach.

Gus Williams

Position: Guard.

Born: Oct. 10, 1953.

Residence: Mount Vernon, N.Y.

Occupation: Entrepreneur who is starting his own business.

Favorite Sonics memory: "I remember that Game 6 (of the 1979 Western Conference finals). Jack (Sikma) came through in a big way for us and was able to make some big buckets for us to win that game on the road. It was a great feeling and it just seemed like we were destined to do it."

Last NBA season: Williams' final season was his only season with the Atlanta Hawks, 1986-87. He averaged just 4.2 points in 33 games.

Dennis Johnson

Position: Guard.

Born: Sept. 12, 1956, in San Pedro, Calif.

Residence: Los Angeles.

Occupation: Portland Trail Blazers scout.

Family: Married to wife Donna for 28 years. Children: Dwayne, 22; Denise, 11; Daniel, 9.

Favorite Sonics memory: "We were playing at San Diego and Lonnie (Shelton)'s two brothers came down and spent the night in his room. Lonnie was 6-7 and maybe 284 pounds at that time. His brothers were 6-4, maybe 310. Big dudes. And Lonnie stayed awake the whole night to capture his brothers snoring. Played it back for us on the bus and said, 'Hey, listen to this.' And it wasn't funny because they were snoring, but just the fact that he stayed awake all night for this mess. We did wild stuff like that."

Last NBA season: Played 75 regular-season games in 1989-90 in Boston and five postseason games before the Celtics were eliminated in the first round.

John Johnson

Position: Forward.

Born: Oct. 18, 1947, in Carthage, Miss.

Residence: Bellevue.

Occupation: Retired.

Family: Son, Mitch, 16.

Favorite Sonics memory: "We were winning, everything was happy. It was back-to-back, big-time parties all over the Northwest. We dictated what everybody did."

Last NBA season: Finished his career with the Sonics, playing just 14 games of the 1981-82 season.

Lonnie Shelton

Position: Forward.

Born: Oct. 19, 1955, in Bakersfield, Calif.

Residence: Bakersfield, Calif.

Occupation: Supervisor for special education group.

Family: Five sons, Lonnie Jr., Marlon, Titus, Timothy and Dion.

Favorite Sonics memory: "Finally winning the championship. Just having it over. We were in Washington when it happened. We were on the road. That was the best moment. Being in the locker room and celebrating."

Last NBA season: Played 44 games during the 1985-86 season with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Jack Sikma

Position: Center.

Born: Nov. 14, 1955, in Kankakee, Ill.

Residence: Seattle.

Occupation: Sonics assistant coach.

Family: Wife, Shawn; sons Jacob, Lucas, Nathan.

Favorite Sonics memory: "It still would have to be when the buzzer blew at Washington in Game 5 and we finally put it away. We'd been so close the year before. To be there and to finally get it done, it ranks as my top memory. I remember Gus throwing the ball up in the air as the buzzer sounded. I still have the image in my mind."

Last NBA season: Retired after 1990-91 season with the Milwaukee Bucks.

Fred Brown

Position: Guard.

Born: July 17, 1948.

Residence: Mercer Island.

Occupation: Senior vice president and Northwest region small business executive for Bank of America.

Family: Wife, Linda; sons Fred Jr., Terik, Bryan.

Last NBA season: Brown played all 13 of his NBA seasons with the Sonics, the only member of the championship team to play exclusively in Seattle. His final season was 1983-84.

Paul Silas

Position: Forward.

Born: July 12, 1943, in Prescott, Ark.

Residence: Bratenahl, Ohio, a Cleveland suburb.

Occupation: Cleveland Cavaliers head coach.

Family: Married 37 years to wife, Carolyn. Children: Donna, Paula and Stephen, who is an assistant Cavs coach.

Favorite Sonics memory: "The thing I remember the most is we (lost free agent) Marvin Webster and we got Lonnie Shelton in return (as compensation from Knicks for signing Webster). That cemented our team because we were able to put Jack Sikma at the center spot and Lonnie at the 4. JJ played the 3. Gus and DJ were the guards and me and Freddie Brown were coming off of the bench. But the key was getting Lonnie."

Last NBA season: Silas played one more season after Seattle won the title, finishing his career with the Sonics after the 1979-80 season.

Tom LaGarde

Born: Feb, 10, 1955, in Detroit.

Residence: Manhattan.

Occupation: Owner of Sports Rejuvenation Inc., a health and sports company in New York. Also markets a product, "Extra Corporal Shockwave" that treats patella tendinitis.

Family: Wife, Heather, is expecting a child in March. Daughter, Hadden.

Favorite Sonics memory: "The journey is more important than the destination. It was a fun group of guys to play with. We had some young players and some very nurturing guys like Paul Silas. It was a lot more like a college team than any other professional team I've been on. Don't think it was the classic NBA team."

Last NBA season: Played the 1981-82 season in Dallas before spending a year in Italy. Returned to the NBA and played one game with the New Jersey Nets during the '84-85 season before suffering a career-ending calf injury.

Wally Walker

Position: Forward.

Born: July 18, 1954, in Bradford, Pa.

Residence: Seattle.

Occupation: Sonics president and CEO the past two years.

Family: Wife, Linda; son, Joseph; daughters, Sara and Molly.

Favorite Sonics memory: "We were down 3-2 in an elimination game at Phoenix, I was sitting and looking at Paul (Silas) in the locker room and he just sat in a chair away from everyone else. His eyes were bloodshot, he had stick 'em on his fingers. And no one would speak to him. It set a great tone because it was mostly a young team that hadn't been in that position and here's a guy who had been there and here's how we've got to approach this game. Just the look on his face, he set the tone. We won that game, won the series, but it was clearly the most pivotal game of the season."

Last NBA season: Finished his eight-year career in 1983-84 with Houston.

Dennis Awtrey

Position: Forward/center.

Born: Feb. 26, 1948, in Hollywood, Calif.

Residence: Phoenix for past 20 years.

Occupation: Retired.

Family: Married two years to wife, Peggy. Daughter Trista, 30, and son David, 27.

Favorite Sonics memory: "I didn't get there until January. I was with Boston and I remember we played in Seattle in January. On the bus in, (Celtics player/coach) Dave Cowens leaned across and said, 'How would you like to play for these guys?' I said, 'Fine with me.' My first three games there, we drew 27,000 and I couldn't believe it."

Last NBA season: Finished his 12-year career with Portland, 1980-81.

Dick Snyder

Position: Guard.

Born: Feb. 1, 1944.

Residence: Paradise Valley, Ariz.

Occupation: Insurance agent for the past 23 years.

Family: Married to high-school sweetheart, Terie. Son, Brian. Other son, Brad, killed in a 1995 automobile accident.

Favorite Sonics memory: "The best part of that season was being part of a team that was on the floor in front of 20,000 people at the Kingdome. It felt good to be a part of that team and give something to the fans."

Last NBA season: Played his final game in Game 5 of the 1979 NBA Finals.

Joe Hassett

Position: Guard.

Born: Sept. 11, 1955, in Providence, R.I.

Residence: East Greenwich, R.I.

Occupation: Money manager for Fleet Financial group for the past 20 years.

Family: Married 24 years to wife, Paula. Four children, Matthew, Shawna, Whitney and Brooke.

Favorite Sonics memory: "We all liked each other. That's unusual in professional sports. I remember this time, we all went to the movies one time. It was about nine of us. That's absurd. NBA guys don't do that. It was just a fun group of guys. Everybody enjoyed each other. The nice thing about that team, everybody got along so well."

Last NBA game: Nov. 9, 1982. While playing with Golden State, broke his wrist and dislocated his shoulder. Played just six games that season.

— Percy Allen

Copyright © 2003 The Seattle Times Company

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