The Seattle SuperSonics known as the Sonics, were an American professional basketball team based in Seattle, Washington. The SuperSonics played in the National Basketball Association as a member club of the league's Western Conference Pacific and Northwest divisions from 1967 until 2008. After the 2007–08 season ended, the team relocated to Oklahoma City and now plays as the Oklahoma City Thunder. Sam Schulman owned the team from its 1967 inception until 1983, it was owned by Barry Ackerley, Basketball Club of Seattle, headed by Starbucks chairman emeritus, former president and CEO Howard Schultz. On July 18, 2006, the Basketball Club of Seattle sold the SuperSonics and its Women's National Basketball Association sister franchise Seattle Storm to the Professional Basketball Club LLC, headed by Oklahoma City businessman Clay Bennett; the sale was approved by the NBA Board of Governors on October 24, 2006, finalized on October 31, 2006, at which point the new ownership group took control. After failing to find public funding to construct a new arena in the Seattle area, the SuperSonics moved to Oklahoma City before the 2008–09 season, following a $45 million settlement with the city of Seattle to pay off the team's existing lease at KeyArena at Seattle Center in advance of its 2010 expiration.
Home games were played at KeyArena known as Seattle Center Coliseum, for 33 of the franchise's 41 seasons in Seattle. In 1978, the team moved to the Kingdome, shared with the Seattle Mariners of Major League Baseball and the Seattle Seahawks of the National Football League, they returned to the Coliseum full-time in 1985, moving temporarily to the Tacoma Dome in Tacoma, for the 1994–95 season while the Coliseum was renovated and rebranded as KeyArena. The SuperSonics won the NBA championship in 1979. Overall, the franchise won three Western Conference titles: 1978, 1979, 1996; the franchise won six divisional titles, their last being in 2005, with five in the Pacific Division and one in the Northwest Division. Settlement terms of a lawsuit between the city of Seattle and Clay Bennett's ownership group stipulated the SuperSonics' banners and retired jerseys remain in Seattle; the SuperSonics' franchise history, would be shared with the Thunder. On December 20, 1966, Los Angeles businessmen Sam Schulman and Eugene V. Klein, who both owned the AFL's San Diego Chargers at the time, a group of minority partners were awarded an NBA franchise for the city of Seattle.
Schulman would serve as the active head of team operations. He named the SuperSonics after Boeing's awarded contract for the SST project, canceled; the SuperSonics were Seattle's first major league sports franchise. Beginning play on October 13, 1967, the SuperSonics were coached by Al Bianchi and featured All-Star guard Walt Hazzard and NBA All-Rookie Team members Bob Rule and Al Tucker; the expansion team stumbled out of the gates with a 144–116 loss in their first game in San Francisco against the San Francisco Warriors. The team got their first win on October 21, their third game of the season in San Diego against the San Diego Rockets in overtime 117–110, finished the season with a 23–59 record. Hazzard was traded to the Atlanta Hawks before the start of the next season for Lenny Wilkens. Wilkens brought a strong all-around game to the SuperSonics, averaging 22.4 points, 8.2 assists, 6.2 rebounds per game for Seattle in the 1968–69 season. Rule, improved on his rookie statistics with 24.0 points per game and 11.5 rebounds per game.
The SuperSonics, only won 30 games and Bianchi was replaced by Wilkens as player/coach during the offseason. Wilkens and Rule both represented Seattle in the 1970 NBA All-Star Game, Wilkens led the NBA in assists during the 1969–70 season. In June 1970 the NBA owners voted 13–4 to work toward a merger with the ABA; the Oscar Robertson suit delayed the merger, the SuperSonics remained in Seattle. Early in the 1970–71 season, Rule tore his Achilles' tendon and was lost for the rest of the year. Wilkens was named the 1971 All-Star Game MVP, but the big news of the season came when owner Sam Schulman managed to land American Basketball Association Rookie of the Year and MVP Spencer Haywood following a lengthy court battle; the following season, the SuperSonics went on to record their first winning season at 47–35. The team, led by player-coach Wilkens and First Team forward Haywood, held a 46–27 mark on March 3, but late season injuries to starters Haywood, Dick Snyder, Don Smith contributed to the team losing eight of its final nine games.
For the 1972–73 season, Wilkens was dealt to Cleveland in a unpopular trade, without his leadership the SuperSonics fell to a 26–56 record. One of the few bright spots of the season was Haywood's second consecutive All-NBA First Team selection, as he averaged a SuperSonics record 29.2 points per game and collected 12.9 rebounds per game. The legendary Bill Russell was hired as the head coach in the following year, in 1975 he coached the SuperSonics to the playoffs for the firs
The Detroit Pistons are an American professional basketball team based in Detroit, Michigan. The Pistons compete in the National Basketball Association as a member of the league's Eastern Conference Central Division and plays its home games at Little Caesars Arena; the team was founded in Fort Wayne, Indiana as the Fort Wayne Pistons in 1941, a member of the National Basketball League where it won two NBL championships: in 1944 and 1945. The Pistons joined the Basketball Association of America in 1948; the NBL and BAA merged to become the NBA in 1949, the Pistons became part of the merged league. Since moving to Detroit in 1957, the Pistons have won three NBA championships: in 1989, 1990 and 2004; the Detroit Pistons franchise was founded as the Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons, a National Basketball League team, in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Owner Fred Zollner's Zollner Corporation was a foundry that manufactured pistons for car and locomotive engines; the Zollner Pistons were NBL champions in 1944 and 1945.
They won the World Professional Basketball Tournament in 1944, 1945 and 1946. In 1948, the team became the Fort Wayne Pistons. In 1949, Fred Zollner brokered the formation of the National Basketball Association from the BAA and the NBL at his kitchen table. There are suggestions that Pistons players conspired with gamblers to shave points and throw various games during the 1953–54 and 1954–55 seasons. In particular, there are accusations that the team may have intentionally lost the 1955 NBA Finals to the Syracuse Nationals. In the decisive Game 7, the Pistons led 41–24 early in the second quarter before the Nationals rallied to win the game; the Nationals won on a free throw by George King with twelve seconds left in the game. The closing moments included a palming turnover by the Pistons' George Yardley with 18 seconds left, a foul by Frank Brian with 12 seconds left that enabled King's winning free throw, a turnover by the Pistons' Andy Phillip in the final seconds which cost them a chance to attempt the game winning shot.
Though the Pistons enjoyed a solid local following, Fort Wayne's small size made it difficult for them to be profitable as other early NBA teams based in smaller cities started folding or relocating to larger markets. After the 1956–57 season, Zollner decided that Fort Wayne was too small to support an NBA team and announced the team would be playing elsewhere in the coming season, he settled on Detroit. Although it was the fifth largest city in the United States at the time, Detroit had not seen professional basketball in a decade, they lost the Detroit Eagles due to World War II, both the Detroit Gems of the NBL and the Detroit Falcons of the BAA in 1947, the Detroit Vagabond Kings in 1949. Zollner decided to keep the Pistons name, believing it made sense given Detroit's status as the center of the automobile industry; the Pistons played in Olympia Stadium for their first four seasons moved to Cobo Arena. During the 1960s and 1970s, the Pistons were characterized by strong individuals and weak teams.
Some of the superstars who played for the team included Dave DeBusschere, Dave Bing, Bob Lanier. At one point, DeBusschere was the youngest player-coach in the history of the NBA. A trade during the 1968–69 season sent DeBusschere to the New York Knicks for Howard Komives and Walt Bellamy, both of whom were in the stages of their careers. DeBusschere became a key player in leading the Knicks to two NBA titles. In 1974, Zollner sold the team to glass magnate Bill Davidson, who remained the team's principal owner until his death in 2009. While the Pistons did qualify for the postseason in four straight seasons from 1974 to 1977, they never had any real sustained success. In 1978, Davidson became displeased with Cobo Arena, but opted not to follow the Red Wings to the under-construction Joe Louis Arena. Instead, he moved the team to the suburb of Pontiac, where they played in the 82,000 capacity Silverdome, a structure built for professional football; the Pistons stumbled their way out of the 1970s and into the 1980s, beginning with a 16–66 record in 1979–80 and following up with a 21–61 record in 1980–81.
The 1979–80 team lost its last 14 games of the season which, when coupled with the seven losses at the start of the 1980–81 season, comprised a then-NBA record losing streak of 21 games. The franchise's fortunes began to turn in 1981, when they drafted point guard Isiah Thomas from Indiana University. In November 1981, the Pistons acquired Vinnie Johnson in a trade with the Seattle SuperSonics, they would acquire center Bill Laimbeer in a trade with the Cleveland Cavaliers in February 1982. Another key move by the Pistons was the hiring of head coach Chuck Daly in 1983; the Pistons had a tough time moving up the NBA ladder. In 1984, the Pistons lost a tough five-game series to the underdog New York Knicks, 3–2. In the 1985 playoffs, Detroit won its first-round series and faced the defending champion Boston Celtics in the conference semifinals. Though Boston would prevail in six games, Detroit's surprise performance promised that a rivalry had begun. In the 1985 NBA draft, the team selected Joe Dumars 18th overall, a selection that would prove to be wise.
They acquired Rick Mahorn in a trade with the Washington Bullets. However, the team took a step backwards, losing in the first round of the 1986 playoffs to the more athletic Atlanta Hawks. After the series, changes were made in order to make the team more defensive-minded. Prior to the 1986–87 season, the Pistons acquired more key players: John Salley (
NBA Rookie of the Year Award
The National Basketball Association's Rookie of the Year Award is an annual National Basketball Association award given to the top rookie of the regular season. Initiated following the 1952–53 NBA season, it confers the Eddie Gottlieb Trophy, named after the former Philadelphia Warriors head coach; the winner is selected by a panel of United States and Canadian sportswriters and broadcasters, each casting first and third place votes. The player with the highest point total, regardless of the number of first-place votes, wins the award; the most recent Rookie of the Year winner is Ben Simmons. Twenty-one winners were drafted first overall. There has only been one winner taken in the second round of the draft, Malcolm Brogdon, taken 36th overall by the Milwaukee Bucks in the 2016 draft. Sixteen winners have won the NBA Most Valuable Player award in their careers. Nineteen of the forty two non-active winners have been elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Three seasons had joint winners—Dave Cowens and Geoff Petrie in the 1970–71 season, Grant Hill and Jason Kidd in the 1994–95 season, Elton Brand and Steve Francis in the 1999–2000 season.
Five players won the award unanimously – Ralph Sampson, David Robinson, Blake Griffin, Damian Lillard, Karl-Anthony Towns. Patrick Ewing of Jamaica, Pau Gasol of Spain, Kyrie Irving and Ben Simmons of Australia and Andrew Wiggins of Canada are the only winners not born in the United States. Three of these individuals have dual nationality by birth—Wiggins and Simmons have American fathers, both of Irving's parents are Americans. Ewing immigrated to the Boston area at age 11, Irving moved to the United States at age 2, Wiggins and Simmons moved to the U. S. while in high school. Gasol is the only winner trained outside the U. S. Prior to the 1952–53 season, the Rookie of the Year was selected by newspaper writers; the league did publish the pre-1953 winners in their 1994–95 edition of the Official NBA Guide and the 1994 Official NBA Basketball Encyclopedia, but those winners have not been listed in subsequent publications. National Basketball Association portal NBA Development League Rookie of the Year Award NBA Rookie of the Month Award General Specific
Women's National Basketball Association
The Women's National Basketball Association is a professional basketball league in the United States. It is composed of twelve teams; the league was founded on April 24, 1996, as the women's counterpart to the National Basketball Association, league play started in 1997. The regular season is played from May to September with the All Star game being played midway through the season in July and the WNBA Finals at the end of September until the beginning of October. Five WNBA teams have direct NBA counterparts and play in the same arena: the Indiana Fever, Los Angeles Sparks, Minnesota Lynx, Phoenix Mercury, Washington Mystics; the Atlanta Dream, Chicago Sky, Connecticut Sun, Dallas Wings, Las Vegas Aces, New York Liberty, Seattle Storm do not share an arena with a direct NBA counterpart, although four of the seven share a market with an NBA counterpart, the Storm shared an arena and market with an NBA team at the time of its founding. The Dream, the Sky, the Sun, the Wings, the Aces, the Sparks, the Storm are all independently owned.
The creation of the WNBA was approved by the NBA Board of Governors on April 24, 1996, announced at a press conference with Rebecca Lobo, Lisa Leslie, Sheryl Swoopes in attendance. The new WNBA had to compete with the formed American Basketball League, another professional women's basketball league that began play in 1996; the WNBA began with eight teams: the Charlotte Sting, Cleveland Rockers, Houston Comets and New York Liberty in the Eastern Conference. While not the first major women's professional basketball league in the United States, the WNBA is the only league to receive full backing of the NBA; the WNBA logo, "Logo Woman", was selected out of 50 different designs. On the heels of a much-publicized gold medal run by the 1996 USA Basketball Women's National Team at the 1996 Summer Olympic Games, the WNBA began its first season on June 21, 1997 to little fanfare; the first WNBA game featured the New York Liberty facing the Los Angeles Sparks in Los Angeles. The game was televised nationally in the United States on the NBC television network.
At the start of the 1997 season, the WNBA had television deals in place with NBC, the Walt Disney Company and Hearst Corporation joint venture channels, ESPN and Lifetime Television Network, respectively. Penny Toler scored the league's first point; the WNBA centered its marketing campaign, dubbed "We Got Next", around stars Rebecca Lobo, Lisa Leslie and Sheryl Swoopes. In the league's first season, Leslie's Los Angeles Sparks underperformed and Swoopes sat out much of the season due to her pregnancy; the WNBA's true star in 1997 was Swoopes' teammate on the Houston Comets. The Comets defeated Lobo's New York Liberty in the first WNBA Championship game; the initial "We Got Next" advertisement ran before each WNBA season until it was replaced with the "We Got Game" campaign. Two teams were added in 1998 and two more in 1999, bringing the number of teams in the league up to twelve; the 1999 season began with a collective bargaining agreement between players and the league, marking the first collective bargaining agreement to be signed in the history of women's professional sports.
The WNBA announced in 1999 that it would add four more team for the 2000 season, bringing the league up to 16 teams, with WNBA President Val Ackerman discussing expansion: "This won't be the end of it. We expect to keep growing the league."In 1999, the league's chief competition, the American Basketball League, folded. Many of the ABL's star players, including several Olympic gold medalists and a number of standout college performers joined the rosters of WNBA teams and, in so doing, enhanced the overall quality of play in the league; when a lockout resulted in an abbreviated NBA season, the WNBA saw faltering TV viewership. On May 23, 2000, the Houston Comets became the first WNBA team to be invited to the White House Rose Garden. Before this invitation, only men's sports teams had traveled to the White House. At the end of the 2000 season, the Houston Comets won their fourth championship, capturing every title since the league's inception. Led by the "Big Three" of Sheryl Swoopes, Tina Thompson, four-time Finals MVP Cynthia Cooper, the Comets dominated every team in the league.
Under head coach Van Chancellor, the team posted a 98–24 record through their first four seasons. After 2000, Cooper retired from the league and the Comets dynasty came to an end; the top contender in the 2001 season was the Los Angeles Sparks. Led by Lisa Leslie, the Sparks posted a regular-season record of 28–4, they advanced to their first WNBA Finals and swept the Charlotte Sting. Looking to repeat in 2002, the Sparks again made a strong run toward the postseason, going 25–7 in the regular season under head coach Michael Cooper of the Los Angeles Lakers. Again, Leslie dominated opponents throughout the Playoffs, leading the Sparks to a perfect 6–0 record through all three rounds, beating the New York Liberty in the 2002 Finals. Teams and the league were collectively owned by the NBA until the end of 2002, when the NBA sold WNBA teams either to their NBA counterparts in the same city or to a third party, as a result of the dot-com bubble; this led to two teams moving: Utah moved to San Antonio, Orlando moved to Connecticut and became the first WNBA team to be
Arvydas Romas Sabonis Lithuanian pronunciation: . Recognized as one of the best European players of all time, he won the Euroscar six times, the Mr. Europa Award twice, he played in a variety of leagues, spent seven seasons in the National Basketball Association, in the United States. Playing the center position, Sabonis won a gold medal at the 1988 Summer Olympics, in South Korea, for the Soviet Union, earned bronze medals at the 1992 Olympic Games and 1996 Olympic Games, while representing Lithuania, he retired from professional basketball in 2005. Sabonis was selected by the Portland Trail Blazers, in the first round of the 1986 NBA draft, but he did not play his first NBA game until the age of 31, in 1995. Sabonis is considered one of the best big man passers, as well as one of the best overall centers, in the history of the game. Bill Walton once called Sabonis, "a 7 ft 3 in Larry Bird", due to his unique court vision, shooting range, rugged in-game mentality, versatility. On August 20, 2010, Sabonis was inducted into the FIBA Hall of Fame, in recognition of his great play in international competition.
On April 4, 2011, Sabonis was named to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, he was inducted on August 12, 2011. At that time, he was the tallest player to enter the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. On October 24, 2011, Sabonis was voted as the next President of the Lithuanian Basketball Federation, replacing Vladas Garastas, who had led the LBF since 1991, he resigned from the position on October 2, 2013, but came back to it on October 10, 2013. Born in Kaunas, Lithuanian SSR, Soviet Union, Sabonis began playing basketball at age 13. By the time he was 15 years old, he was a member of the Soviet national junior team. Sabonis escaped conscription to the Soviet Army, by enrolling at the Lithuanian University of Agriculture, in his hometown. Sabonis made his professional club debut in 1981, with one of the oldest basketball teams in Lithuania, Žalgiris, in his hometown of Kaunas. With the club, he won three consecutive Soviet Premier League titles, the 1986 FIBA Club World Cup.
In 1989, Sabonis left Žalgiris, signed with the Spanish Liga ACB club Fórum Valladolid. In 1992, after playing with Fórum Valladolid for three seasons, Sabonis joined Spanish club Real Madrid, with them, he won two Spanish League titles, a EuroLeague title, in 1995. During the 1994–95 regular season with Real Madrid, he averaged 22.8 points, 13.2 rebounds, 2.6 blocked shots, 2.4 assists per game. Sabonis was selected by the Atlanta Hawks, with the 77th overall pick, of the 1985 NBA draft. However, the selection was voided; the following spring, he suffered a devastating Achilles' tendon injury. He was selected by the Portland Trail Blazers, with the 24th overall pick of the 1986 NBA draft. Sabonis was not allowed to play in the US, despite LSU Tigers head coach Dale Brown's plans to have Sabonis studying and playing at Louisiana State University, thus keeping him in an amateur status. However, he did go to Portland, to rehabilitate his injury with the Blazers medical staff, in 1988, while practicing with the team.
After the 1994–95 European season and Portland contacted one another about a move to the NBA. Before signing Sabonis, Portland's then-general manager, Bob Whitsitt, asked the Blazers team physician to look at Sabonis' X-rays. Illustrating the impact of Sabonis' numerous injuries, Whitsitt recalled in a 2011 interview, that when the doctor reported the results, "He said that Arvydas could qualify for a handicapped parking spot, based on the X-ray alone." The Blazers signed Sabonis. He had a successful rookie campaign, averaging 14.5 points, on 55% shooting, 8.1 rebounds per game, while playing less than 24 minutes per game. Sabonis was selected to the All-Rookie First Team, was runner-up in both Rookie of the Year and Sixth Man of the Year voting, his postseason averages went up to 10.2 rebounds per game. In the first playoff series of his NBA career, Portland lost in five games. Sabonis averaged 16.0 points, 10.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists per game, in 1997–98, all career-highs. During Sabonis' first leg in Portland, the Blazers always made the playoffs.
Kenny Anderson and Isaiah Rider were traded for Steve Smith. In both those years, the Blazers reached the Western Conference Finals; the question that surrounds Sabonis' NBA career revolves around how good he could have been, had he played in the NBA during his prime. Sabonis was nearly 31 when he joined the Blazers, by which time he had won multiple gold medals, suffered through numerous injuries, had lost much of his mobility and athleticism. In Bill Simmons' "Book of Basketball", Arvydas Sabonis the international player is idealized, while Arvydas Sabonis the Blazer, is described as "lumbering up and down the court in what looked to be concrete Nikes", ranking "just behind Artis Gilmore on the Moving Like a Mummy Scale." In
Utah Utes men's basketball
The Utah Utes men's basketball team represents the University of Utah as an NCAA Division I program that plays in the Pac-12 Conference. They are led by head coach Larry Krystkowiak and play their home games at the Jon M. Huntsman Center; the school has made the NCAA Tournament 27 times, which ranks 20th in NCAA history and tied for third most appearances behind UCLA and the University of Arizona in the Western United States. They last made the tournament in 2016. Utah won the NCAA Championship in 1944, defeating Dartmouth College 42–40 for the school's only NCAA basketball championship. However, the school claims the 1916 AAU National Championship, awarded after winning the AAU national tournament, they have won the NIT once, defeating Kentucky in 1947. In 1998, the Utes played in the NCAA championship game. Utah began play in 1908, finishing with a record of 3–8. However, by 1916, they had won their first national championship, winning the National AAU Tournament; the team would compete in the tournament two other times, in 1918 and 1919.
But it wasn't until 1927 that Utah began laying the foundation for what would become one of the winningest programs in college basketball. That began with the hiring of Vadal Peterson, who would become the winningest coach in Utah basketball history. Peterson would guide Utah to 6 conference and state championships and reached the ultimate prize in 1944, when the Utes won the national championship. Oddly enough, Utah had turned down a bid to the NCAA Tournament because they wanted to play in the NIT. Back the NIT was a far more prestigious tournament and drew the big time college basketball programs. However, after being bounced in the first round by Kentucky, Utah was given a second chance to play in the NCAA Tournament; the Arkansas Razorbacks were forced to withdraw after two of their players were badly injured in a car accident. Needing another team to take the Razorbacks' place, the NCAA invited Utah; the Utes accepted and went on to defeat Dartmouth 42–40. The legendary Arnie Ferrin was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player after scoring 28 points in the final two games.
Three years Peterson would lead Utah to the more prestigious NIT championship, as they defeated enough, Kentucky 49–45. Peterson would retire from Utah with a 385–230 record and is the only coach in Utah history to have won a national championship. After Peterson retired, Utah basketball was known as one of the strongest in the west; that tradition helped convince Kansas State head coach Jack Gardner to accept the job. Gardner had led the Wildcats to two Final Fours prior to accepting the job and during his 18 years at Utah, he built a legacy that many today feel is the strongest in Utah history. Jack Gardner was known for his quick offenses, where Utah got its name as the Runnin' Redskins; because of his radical offensive sets, the Utes were regarded as the team that helped usher in a new era of college basketball. By his second season, Gardner had the Utes in their first NCAA Tournament since the 1945 season and the Utes dominated their way to a conference championship. Finishing the year 24 -- 4, Utah was eliminated in the second round.
In Gardner's third season he once again guided the Utes to a conference championship and an NCAA tournament berth. That year the Utes climbed to 11th in the polls and made it to the Elite Eight, before bowing out to eventual champion San Francisco, led by future NBA legend and Hall of Famer Bill Russell; the Utes kept their postseason streak alive for Gardner's fourth and fifth seasons, making the NIT, they lost in the first round both years. In 1959, Utah again returned to the NCAA Tournament, before losing to Idaho State in the second round; the Utes would make the NCAA Tournament again in 1960, like in'59, were defeated in the second round, this time by USC. After getting eliminated in the second round in consecutive years, Jack Gardner and Utah made a run at the national championship in 1961; that year the Utes finished 23 -- 12 -- 2 in conference play. They were faced Loyola-California in the first round; the Utes won 91–75 and advanced to the Elite Eight, where they defeated Arizona State 88–80, to make the school's first Final Four in 17 years.
There they would face the eventual national champions Cincinnati Bearcats, losing 82–67. Though the season had ended short of the national championship, Utah had returned to the national stage and would prove to be a worthy national foe for years to come. A season after the 1961 Final Four ushered in great change for Utah athletics; the Utes, along with the Arizona, Arizona State, BYU, New Mexico, Wyoming decided to form the Western Athletic Conference. The competitive conference made it far more difficult for the Utes to win, as Gardner struggled in the first three years of the conference's formation. During that span the Utes would go 12–14, 19–9 and 17–9. However, by 1966 Utah was once again ready to make a national splash, after cruising to a conference championship and the program's first tournament berth since the 1961 season during that season. Utah faced Pacific in the semifinals. After a easy 83–74 victory over the Tigers, Utah advanced to the Elite Eight where they would face the Oregon State Beavers.
In a competitive game, the Utes came out on top, defeating the Beavers 70–64 to once again advance to the Final Four. This was a historical achievement for Jack Gardner, because it made him the first, only, coach to guide two different teams to two Final Fours, but it was the cultural significance of this Final Four that would have far reaching historical impact and change the game
Dissolution of the Soviet Union
The dissolution of the Soviet Union occurred on 26 December 1991 granting self-governing independence to the Republics of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. It was a result of the declaration number 142-Н of the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union; the declaration acknowledged the independence of the former Soviet republics and created the Commonwealth of Independent States, although five of the signatories ratified it much or did not do so at all. On the previous day, 25 December, Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, the eighth and final leader of the USSR, declared his office extinct and handed over its powers—including control of the Soviet nuclear missile launching codes—to Russian President Boris Yeltsin; that evening at 7:32 p.m. the Soviet flag was lowered from the Kremlin for the last time and replaced with the pre-revolutionary Russian flag. From August to December all the individual republics, including Russia itself, had either seceded from the union or at the least denounced the Treaty on the Creation of the USSR.
The week before formal dissolution, eleven republics signed the Alma-Ata Protocol formally establishing the CIS and declaring that the USSR had ceased to exist. Both the Revolutions of 1989 and the dissolution of the USSR marked the end of the Cold War. Several of the former Soviet republics have retained close links with the Russian Federation and formed multilateral organizations such as the Commonwealth of Independent States, Eurasian Economic Community, the Union State, the Eurasian Customs Union and the Eurasian Economic Union to enhance economic and security cooperation. On the other hand, the Baltic states have joined the European Union. Mikhail Gorbachev was elected General Secretary by the Politburo on March 11, 1985, three hours after predecessor Konstantin Chernenko's death at age 73. Gorbachev, aged 54, was the youngest member of the Politburo, his initial goal as general secretary was to revive the Soviet economy, he realized that doing so would require reforming underlying political and social structures.
The reforms began with personnel changes of senior Brezhnev-era officials who would impede political and economic change. On April 23, 1985, Gorbachev brought two protégés, Yegor Ligachev and Nikolai Ryzhkov, into the Politburo as full members, he kept the "power" ministries happy by promoting KGB Head Viktor Chebrikov from candidate to full member and appointing Minister of Defence Marshal Sergei Sokolov as a Politburo candidate. This liberalization, fostered nationalist movements and ethnic disputes within the Soviet Union, it led indirectly to the revolutions of 1989, in which Soviet-imposed socialist regimes of the Warsaw Pact were toppled peacefully, which in turn increased pressure on Gorbachev to introduce greater democracy and autonomy for the Soviet Union's constituent republics. Under Gorbachev's leadership, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in 1989 introduced limited competitive elections to a new central legislature, the Congress of People's Deputies. In May 1985, Gorbachev delivered a speech in Leningrad advocating reforms and an anti-alcohol campaign to tackle widespread alcoholism.
Prices of vodka and beer were raised, intended to discourage drinking by increasing the cost of liquor. A rationing program was introduced, where citizens were assigned punch cards detailing how much liquor they could buy in a certain time frame. Unlike most forms of rationing, adopted as a strategy to conserve scarce goods, this was done to restrict sales with the overt goal of curtailing drunkenness. Gorbachev's plan included billboards promoting sobriety, increased penalties for public drunkenness, censorship of drinking scenes from old movies; this mirrored Tsar Nicholas II's program during the First World War, intended to eradicate drunkenness in order to bolster the war effort. However, that earlier effort was intended to preserve grain for only the most essential purposes, which did not appear to be a goal in Gorbachev's program. Gorbachev soon faced the same adverse economic reaction to his prohibition; the disincentivization of alcohol consumption was a serious blow to the state budget according to Alexander Yakovlev, who noted annual collections of alcohol taxes decreased by 100 billion rubles.
Alcohol sales migrated to the black market and moonshining became more prevalent as some made "bathtub vodka" with homegrown potatoes. Poorer, less educated Soviets resorted to drinking unhealthy substitutes such as nail-polish remover, rubbing alcohol, or men's cologne, resulting in an additional burden on Russia's healthcare sector due to the increased poisoning cases; the underlying purpose of these reforms was to prop up the existing command economy, in contrast to reforms, which tended toward market socialism. On July 1, 1985, Gorbachev promoted Eduard Shevardnadze, First Secretary of the Georgian Communist Party, to full member of the Politburo, the following day appointed him minister of foreign affairs, replacing longtime Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko; the latter, disparaged as "Mr Nyet" in the West, had served for 28 years as Minister of Foreign Affairs. Gromyko was relegated to the ceremonial position of Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet, as he was considered an "old thinker".
On July 1, Gorbachev sidelined his main rival by removing Grigory Romanov from the Politburo and he brought Boris Yeltsin and Lev Zaikov into the CPSU Central Committee Secretariat. In the fall of 1985, Gorbachev continued to bring more energetic men into government. On September 27, 55-year-ol