In 1978 the Washington Bullets 44-38 coached by long time NBA coach Dick Motta, returned to the NBA finals to face the Seattle Supersonics 47-35 coached by former Hall of Fame player Lenny Wilkins who had spent fifteen years as a guard in the NBA.
The Bullets were led by Elvin Hayes 19.7ppg/13.3 rpg, Bob Dandridge 19.3 ppg, Wes Unseld 11.9 rpg, Mitch Kupthak 15.9 ppg and Kevin Grevey 15.5 ppg while Seattle was led by Marvin Webster 14.0 ppg/12.6 rpg, Gus Williams 18.1 ppg, Jack Sikma 10.7 ppg/8.3 rpg, Fred Brown 16.6 ppg and Dennis Johnson 12.7 ppg.
Dennis Johnson nicknamed DJ would later achieve fame with the Boston Celtic championship teams of the 1980’s.
Game one was the first ever finals game held in Seattle at the Seattle Center Coliseum. The SuperSonics played with confidence and outrebounded Washington 57-38 to get eight more field goal attempts and with a big fourth quarter in which they outscored the visitors 33-18 got a 106-102 victory.
For the winners Fred Brown scored 30 points off the bench, Marvin Webster had 17 points/14 rebounds and John Johnson contributed 18 points/ 10 rebounds.
Kevin Grevey led Washington with 27 points and Elvin Hayes added 21.
In game two in the Capitol Centre in Landover, Maryland Washington regrouped behind Bob Dandridge’s 34 points, ElvinHayes added 25 and Tom Henderson had 20 as the Bullets outrebounded the SuperSonics 48-39 for a 106-98 win to even the series at a game apiece.
For Seattle Gus Williams had 24, Dennis Johnson had 24 and Marvin Webster pulled down 12 rebounds.
Still in Maryland for game three which proved to be the closest game of the series, the Supersonics behind Marvin Webster’s 20 points/12 rebounds, Gus Williams 20 points, Paul Silas 14 rebounds and Dennis Johnson’s 12 points/7 blocks pulled out a 93-92 win to go ahead in the series two games to one.
Elvin Hayes with 29 points/20 rebounds, Wes Unseld with 12 rebounds and Bob Dandridge’s 21 points led the Bullets.
Game four was in Seattle but was moved to the baseball venue, the Kingdome, which seated over 39,000 people so the Bullets had a larger home crowd to contend with.
The game was close throughout and went into overtime but Washington eked out a 120-116 win to tie the series. Dennis Johnson again had a big game for Seattle with 33 points, Webster had 15 rebounds and Gus Williams 23 points.
For the winning Washington Wes Unseld had 15 points/11 rebounds, Elvin Hayes 21 points/ 13 rebounds, Bob Dandridge 23 points and Mitch Kupchak 12 points/10 rebounds.
Game five was back at the Seattle Center Coliseum and the SuperSonics pulled out a 98-94 win behind 26 points off the bench from Fred Brown, Webster had 10 points/13 rebounds and Dennis Johnson scored 24 points and to take a 3-2 lead in the series.
For the losing Washington Bob Dandridgehad 21 points/10 rebounds, Wes Unseld 13 points/14 rebounds and Kevin Grevey contributed 22 points.
On the brink of elimination Washington responded back on their home court with a convincing 117-82 victory as they outrebounded the Supersonics 69-49 with ElvinHayes having 15 boards/21 points, Unseld 14 rebounds and Greg Ballard added 12 off the bench.
Seattle was led by GusWilliams with 16 and Brown with 17 points to set up the seventhgame in Seattle.
Washington’s game plan was to limit Dennis Johnson and it was successful as he was 0 for 14 with only 4 points as Seattle made only 38.5% of their field goals. Marvin Websterhad a good game with 27 points/19 rebounds and Sikma had 21 points/ 11 rebounds and Fred Brown scored 21 but it wasn’t enough as Washington won 105-99 for their first and only NBA title.
Wes Unseld contributed 15 points/ 9 rebounds and Bob Dandridge and Charles Johnson both had 19 points for thewinners as Seattle had six players in double figures.
Wes Unseld got the series MVP and both Washington and Seattle would be back the next year.
Ron Griffitts a contributing columnist for the Daily Advocate