Oklahoma City Thunder

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Oklahoma City Thunder

Established in the Pacific Northwest, the SuperSonics, a nod to Seattle’s thriving aerospace industry, made their NBA debut in 1967.

Under player-coach Lenny Wilkens and guard Fred Brown, they made waves. But center-forward Spencer Haywood, joining in 1971 after a landmark U.S. Supreme Court case, set the stage. Their first playoff appearance came in the 1974-75 season. Coached by Bill Russell, they tasted their first postseason victory against the Detroit Pistons.

The Championship Era

Wilkens’ return in the 1977-78 season set the pace. Despite a shaky start, a playoff run took them to the NBA finals, albeit with a loss to the Washington Bullets. But revenge was sweet; the Sonics clinched the NBA championship the next year, triumphing over the Bullets.

Throughout the 1980s, the Sonics were a playoff fixture. Their biggest highlight? The 1986–87 season, entering as the seventh seed but pushed the Lakers to their limits in the conference finals.

The SuperSonics’ Sunset

The 90s ushered in a new era. George Karl took the reins in 1991, overseeing a team headlined by Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp. After narrowly missing the NBA finals in 1992-93, the 1995-96 season was iconic.

With a stellar 64–18 record, they met the Chicago Bulls in the NBA finals. Despite their best efforts, Michael Jordan’s Bulls prevailed in six games.

After some playoff disappointments, a division title in 2004-05 seemed promising. However, off-court drama dominated the headlines.

A Thunderous Transformation

2008 marked a change. With the Sonics sold to Oklahoma investors and a controversial relocation due to arena disputes, the team was rebranded as the Oklahoma City Thunder. But this wasn’t just a name change; it marked the dawn of the Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook era.

By their second season, the playoffs were within grasp. Their momentum surged, culminating in an NBA finals appearance in 2011-12.

Thundering Onward

2015-16 saw them challenge the Golden State Warriors in the conference finals. Despite a 3-1 series lead, they were narrowly edged out. Durant’s departure the next season was a shock, pushing Westbrook to the forefront. His historic performance, including an NBA record of 42 triple-double games in 2016-17, kept fans on edge.

Adding Paul George in the 2017-18 season raised hopes. Yet, despite Westbrook’s and George’s efforts, playoff success remained elusive.

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