Happy Sonics Birthday to someone who played 3 years with the Sonics, however he’s known more for his contributions to the Sonics by actions of other people. This man was the focal point of TWO Sonic trades (incoming and departing). At one time we traded Jack Sikma for him and then flipped him for Gary Payton. This guy sounds like a total NBA stud, until you watch this. Yes, that birthday belongs to Alton Lister. To be completely honest, I have never thought of him as a Sonic, however that YouTube link is probably one of the most emphatic moments in Sonics history. Also, he was traded for a 1st round pick that turned into Gary Payton. Needless to say he had a great impact on Sonics history, in fact he is probably Golden State’s Olden Polynice (For those that don’t know, the Sonics traded Scottie Pippen for Olden Polynice).
Lister averaged 8.3 points, 7.9 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game for the Sonics from 1987-1989. He started 212 out of the 239 for the Sonics. His best game as a Sonic was in his first year in Seattle against Boston where he scored 20 points on just 12 shots and grabbed 17 rebounds. That year he had 2 games with 20+ rebounds . If he played in today’s center-deficient NBA he’d probably be one of the top 5 centers in the game. However, he played in an era of big men.
According to Alton Lister’s Facebook Page he works at Philippine Long Distance Company as a consultant/skill coach in Manila (That is the company that owns the basketball team “The Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters” of the Philippine Basketball Association). Lister was last seen in the NBA as an assistant coach of the Atlanta Hawks in 2008. When researching Alton Lister I stumbled upon one of the craziest things I’ve ever seen in MVP voting. In the 1982-83 season Lister had 5 MVP votes which put him 15th, above Isiah Thomas, Bernard King and Seattle’s Gus Williams (who averaged 20 points per game and 8 assists). Lister only averaged 8.4 points and 7 rebounds that year. Now, I imagine this could be like Hall Of Fame voting where people vote for a guy they really enjoyed covering, however he had 5 votes. This is absurd, but I like absurdities.
Alton Lister will forever go down in Seattle lore as the guy that Shawn Kemp humiliated and brought Seattle Gary Payton. Alton Lister was the guy we traded Jack Sikma for, and Lister finished above The Wizard in MVP voting somehow. Alton Lister, thank you for all that you’ve done for the Sonics, even if it wasn’t in the uniform.
*Also thanks to Aaron Padoshek for allowing me to use his birthday cake. You can check out his Flickr account here.
I'm a Seattle sports fanatic who specializes in advanced stats. I have a math background so I have a tendency to break things down very analytically to interpret the data that I look at. I love all drafts: NBA, NFL, MLB, Expansion, you name it I love it. Cannot wait until we get to start talking some Sonics hoops!