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Former Sonics great Wally Walker remembers Seattle’s last big parade

Lenny Wilkens holds up the NBA title trophy during the parade celebrating the SuperSonics 1979 world championship. (AP file)

It’s been 35 years since fans lined the streets of downtown Seattle to honor the NBA champion SuperSonics. And all these years later, the memory remains strong for former Sonic Wally Walker.

“I wish I had a small bit of change for every person that’s come up to me in 35 years, and a fair amount recently, to say ‘I was there in 1979, I’ll never forget it, I brought my friend or my grandfather or grandson and we’ll never forget that memory together.'”

Walker says the team had no idea how big the parade would be.

“We gathered at the Kingdome, and it was quiet. We didn’t know what to expect. We knew there’d be some folks out, and then we turned the corner and came up 4th Avenue and it just builds and builds,” he recalls.

An estimated 300,000 people jammed the streets for the celebration. Walker remembers being overwhelmed by the outpouring of affection from the fans, and how close they got to the players as they rode in convertibles on the sunny late Spring day. The longtime player and NBA executive only wishes he’d cherished it more.

“We didn’t fully appreciate the fact that would be the first and only one for a very long time,” he says. “I think people are rightfully optimistic about the future of the Seahawks because they’ve done a great job in putting together the team but it’s so fragile and you just don’t know what’s going to happen. So yeah, let’s celebrate this one.”

Walker is disappointed he won’t be able to attend the Seahawks parade because he’s traveling on business. But he says his wife and three kids wouldn’t miss it for the world.

“There’s nothing like a team championship to bring together a community and from all the diverse populations. It’s just a great celebration.”

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