Sonic Blast From The Past

Popular Facebook site recalls the glory of the Seattle SuperSonics

By Rob Smith

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Walter Iooss Jr./Sports Illustrated via Getty Images

June 16, 2022

This article originally appeared in the March/April 2022 issue of Seattle Magazine.

In one photo, NBA Hall of Famer and former Sonics great Jack Sikma maneuvers to take his deadly accurate fallback jump shot. In another, Hall of Famer Gary Payton lobs a perfect pass as teammate Shawn Kemp slams yet another alley-oop dunk.

Those are just two of the thousands of old pictures, game clippings, feature stories, box scores, programs and other memorabilia on “The History of the Seattle SuperSonics (1967-2008)” Facebook page. The page, taken over four years ago by SuperSonics and NBA superfan Matthew McCullough after its founder suffered health setbacks, now has almost 5,000 members.

Though most followers mince no words about their overwhelming desire for the NBA to bring pro basketball back to Seattle — particularly as rumors intensify that an announcement is imminent — McCullough insists the page is about the past, not the future. He often posts more than 10 items a day.

SuperSonics and NBA superfan Matthew McCullough finds many old photos such as this on websites, including eBay, and downloads them for posting.

Focus on Sport/Getty Images

For McCullough, those memories run deeper than most. He can recite obscure facts known by few outside of those who actually lived them. He became friends with ex-Sonics Don Smith and Gus Williams — a mainstay of the 1979 championship team McCullough calls his all-time favorite Sonic — because of his detailed recall of specific events in Sonics history. Numerous ex-players, many with no Seattle ties, have become familiar with his posts, including Spencer Haywood, Calvin Murphy, Rudy Tomjanovich and Emmette Bryant. Some reach out to him and others wonder if he’s an ex-player. He’s not.

He finds many old photos and box scores on websites, including eBay, and simply downloads them for posting. Many captions, however, come from his knowledge of the game and his own extensive collection of memorabilia, including vintage programs, jerseys and newspaper clippings.
His favorite era of Sonics basketball? Like many, it’s the late 1970s, when the Sonics roared to their only championship, and the early 1980s.

McCullough remains skeptical that the NBA will return to Seattle anytime soon. He says it could be five or even 10 years before the city lands another team. If and when it does, however, he’ll be there.

“Everybody says to me, ‘You’ve got to be there, of all people.’ Yeah, I’ll be there,” he says. “But I don’t know if it’ll ever be the same.”

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