'Slick' Watts

Slick Watts
Personal information
Born (1951-07-22) July 22, 1951 (age 71)
Rolling Fork, Mississippi
Listed height6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)
Listed weight175 lb (79 kg)
Career information
High schoolHenry Weather
(Rolling Fork, Mississippi)
NBA draft1973 / Undrafted
Playing career1973–1979
PositionPoint guard
Number13, 14, 00
Career history
19731978Seattle SuperSonics
1978New Orleans Jazz
1978–1979Houston Rockets
1980Anchorage Northern Knights
Career highlights and awards
Stats Edit this at Wikidata at NBA.com
Stats Edit this at Wikidata at Basketball-Reference.com

Donald Earl "Slick" Watts (born July 22, 1951) is an American former basketball player.[1] He is perhaps most well known for being the first NBA player to lead the league in both assists and steals, in 1976.[2]


"Slick" Watts originally attended Grand View Junior College but transferred to Xavier University of Louisiana in 1970, where he would play college basketball for three years under coach Bob Hopkins, and alongside his teammate, future ABA and NBA star Bruce Seals.[3]

For the 1972 season, Watts and Seals would lead the Gold Rush to its first NAIA District 30 Men's Basketball championship defeating Nicholls State University 85-83, but would go on to lose to Westmont in the 1972 NAIA men's basketball tournament semi-finals 71-59.[4]

During his final season, Watts lead the Gold Rush to their second consecutive NAIA District 30 Championship, defeating Dillard University 101-80.[4] In the 1973 NAIA men's basketball tournament Watts and his teammates would upset Sam Houston State University, 67-60, in the second round. At the time, the Bearkats were ranked first in the country in all college division polls and had gone 34 games, over a two-year period, without a loss. The Xavier Gold Rush would eventually lose in the semi-finals to Maryland-Eastern Shore 87-80.


Watts was not selected by any team in the 1973 NBA draft, but his former coach at Xavier University, Bob Hopkins, was a cousin of Bill Russell, who was the coach and general manager for the Seattle SuperSonics. Russell gave Watts a tryout and is noted for saying that, "Watts was the best-looking guard in camp and oftentimes embarrassed the other players."[5] Watts signed with the SuperSonics as a rookie free agent.

After making the roster for the 1973–74 season as a reserve, he played more frequently the following season. On February 21, 1975, Watts recorded his first career triple-double with 12 points, 10 rebounds, and 11 assists, along with adding 4 steals, in a 110-108 win over the Atlanta Hawks.[6] Two days later, Watts recorded a career-high 9 steals, while also scoring 13 points and adding 14 assists, during a 114-10 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers.[7] He became a starter for the 1975–76 season.[8] That season, he led the NBA in total assists, assists per game, total steals, steals per game, and made NBA All-Defense First-Team. He was the first player to lead the NBA in assists and steals in the same season.[1]

In 1976, Watts also received the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award for his outstanding service to the community.[9] Watts followed with another productive year in the 1976-77 season, averaging 8.0 assists and 2.7 steals per game.

At the start of the 1977-78 season, Watts was re-united with Hopkins, who was hired as the Sonics' new head coach. Hopkins was fired after a 5-17 start, and new coach Lenny Wilkens made some lineup changes, one of which was to replace Watts with Dennis Johnson. Watts was eventually traded mid-season to the New Orleans Jazz for a first-round draft pick.

Watts retired from the league after the 1978-79 season due to injury. He played 4+12 years with the Sonics, half a season with the New Orleans Jazz, and one season with the Houston Rockets.[1]

He picked up the nickname "Slick" because he was one of the first players to shave his head, unusual at the time. He was also known for wearing his headband off-center.[citation needed] Despite a somewhat short tenure on the SuperSonics, Watts is viewed as one of Seattle’s more recognizable figures across sports.[10]

Later years[]

After his playing career, Watts became a physical education teacher at Dearborn Park elementary school and a basketball coach at Franklin High School in the Seattle area and took up tennis.[11] In 2001, Watts spent 22 days in a hospital with sarcoidosis, which caused his weight to drop by almost 50 pounds before his condition improved. He ended his post-basketball career teaching physical education for nearly 20 years at Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary in Seattle before retiring in 2017.[12] In April 2021, three months before his 70th birthday, Watts suffered a major stroke.[13]

NBA career statistics[]

  GP Games played   GS  Games started  MPG  Minutes per game
 FG%  Field goal percentage  3P%  3-point field goal percentage  FT%  Free throw percentage
 RPG  Rebounds per game  APG  Assists per game  SPG  Steals per game
 BPG  Blocks per game  PPG  Points per game  Bold  Career high
 *  Led the league

Regular season[]

1973–74 Seattle 62 23.0 .388 .645 2.9 5.7 1.9 0.2 8.0
1974–75 Seattle 82 25.1 .421 .608 3.2 6.1 2.3 0.1 6.8
1975–76 Seattle 82 33.9 .427 .578 4.5 8.1* 3.2* 0.2 13.0
1976–77 Seattle 79 33.3 .422 .587 3.9 8.0 2.7 0.3 13.0
1977–78 Seattle 32 25.3 .404 .566 2.5 4.2 1.7 0.4 7.8
1977–78 New Orleans 39 19.9 .381 .602 2.5 4.1 1.4 0.4 7.2
1978–79 Houston 61 17.1 .405 .612 1.7 4.0 1.2 0.2 3.7
Career 437 26.3 .413 .597 3.2 6.1 2.2 0.3 8.9


1975 Seattle 9 31.3 .462 .538 3.7 7.1 3.0 0.4 11.1
1976 Seattle 6 32.8 .435 .478 3.0 8.2 2.0 0.3 11.8
1979 Houston 2 21.5 .400 .667 3.5 3.5 2.0 0.5 7.0
Career 17 30.7 .446 .519 3.4 7.1 2.5 0.4 10.9

See also[]


  1. ^ a b c "Slick Watts". Basketball-Reference. Retrieved 2010-04-19.
  2. ^ Slick Watts, Beloved Sonic and Husky Dad, Deals with Major Health Setback
  3. ^ "'Slick' Picked Player of the Month". Xavier Herald Newspaper. 1970-12-01. p. 8. Retrieved 2022-07-13.
  4. ^ a b "NAIA District 30 Men's Basketball - Varsity Pride". www.jonfmorse.com. Retrieved 2021-01-14.
  5. ^ "Donald "Slick" Watts Makes Sonics Roster". Xavier Herald Newspaper. 1973-10-01. p. 6. Retrieved 2022-07-14.
  6. ^ Slick Watts First Career Triple Double
  7. ^ Slick Watts Career High 9 Steals
  8. ^ "Watts Is Too Slick To Stay On SuperSonics' Bench Long". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Associated Press. 1976-03-04. Retrieved 2010-04-19.
  9. ^ Vescey, George (1987-02-08). "Sports Of The Times; The Youngest Old-Timer". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-04-19.
  10. ^ Slick Watts, Beloved Sonic and Husky Dad
  11. ^ Weaver, Mike (1983-10-28). "Tennis helped 'Slick' Watts slide out of basketball". Tri City Herald. Retrieved 2010-04-19.
  12. ^ Jenks, Jayson (2017-05-17). "Slick Watts at 65: Forever a Sonic, famously accessible". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 2017-05-08.
  13. ^ Stone, Larry (April 13, 2021). "Sending positive thoughts to Sonics great Slick Watts, who has 'long road to recovery' after stroke". The Seattle Times. Retrieved April 14, 2021.

External links[]