The Sonics are an iconic franchise because of two things: their team in the 90s with Gary Payton, Shawn Kemp, and Detlef Schrempf and the way the team was moved to Oklahoma City. From the moment Seattle lost its team the NBA community and fans are hoping the Sonics will reemerge.
Their best season in franchise history was in 1996. This was their year. They lost in the Western Conference Finals in 1993 against the Suns. The next two years they had two first-round exits, including the shocking loss to the 8th seed Denver Nuggets. They took the league by storm in ’96 with a franchise-record 64 wins, hungry to finally win it all. Their coach believes one little detail lost them the Finals against the Chicago Bulls.
“I lost that series on a technicality. Our second game in the series was in Chicago. It was a night game, it started late. It was an NBA game, it was long. We played well, but we didn’t play well enough to win, and we lost. For some reason, I decided to fly home after the game. In my opinion, that cost us the series.”George Karl, The Ringer
Coach Karl continues to explain how they had some flight issues, had to stop in Montana to refuel and they arrived in Seattle around 5 am. That completely messed up the team’s sleep pattern and the next game was Sunday at noon. The Sonics looked tired and flat in that game, and Karl sees his decision as the cause of that.
There is a small detail of Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman and Toni Kukoč on the other side of the court, finishing up a 72 win season. But, this isn’t the first time a coach or a player is convinced one random decision swung a series. George Karl blames a flight.