BY Steve Rudman 08:15AM 02/18/2011

Top 5 List: Best careers after exiting Seattle

Former Supersonic Ray Allen is now the NBA’s all-time 3-point king

From left, Jay Buhner, Dan Wilson, Randy Johnson, Edgar Martinez and Ken Griffey Jr. pose for photographers on Opening Day, 2010 / Wiki Commons

Less than a week ago, Ray Allen of the Boston Celtics, and a former member of the Seattle SuperSonics, broke Reggie Miller’s NBA record for career 3-pointers made when he hit his 2,561st in a 92-86 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers. A four-time All-Star with the Sonics from 2003-07, Allen has since made three All-Star teams as a member of the Celtics. Which begs the question: which professional athletes, with a minimum of four years wearing a Seattle uniform, had the best careers after exiting the Pacific Northwest? Our double-bonus Top 5 list:

  • 10

    Rafael Soriano: Soriano spent his first five professional seasons (2002-06) laboring in the Mariners’ bullpen. Seattle traded him on Dec. 7, 2006, for Horacio Ramirez in one of the most ill-conceived swaps in franchise history. Ramirez went 8-7 with a 7.16 ERA in his only year (2007) in Seattle. Soriano spent two years as Atlanta’s set-up man, saved 27 games as its closer in 2009, and had a major league-high 45 saves for Tampa Bay in 2010, when he won the Rolaids Relief award. After signing a three-year, $33 million contract with the Yankees, he will serve as Mariano Rivera’s set-up man in 2011.
  • 9

    Tom Chambers: When Sonics’ coach Bernie Bickerstaff made it clear that he no longer wanted Chambers, the 6-10 forward went to the Phoenix Suns as the first unrestricted free agent in NBA history to change teams. Chambers, a one-time All-Star in Seattle, became a three-time All-Star after departing. He exacted revenge on the Sonics on March 24, 1990 by dropping 60 points on them.
  • 8

    Tino Martinez: Martinez spent his first six major league seasons with the Mariners, then went to the Yankees on Dec. 7, 1995, in a trade the Mariners made in order to shed payroll (the Mariners netted Russ Davis and Sterling Hitchcock in the deal). After hitting 88 home runs for Seattle, Martinez smacked 251 more for the Yankees, Cardinals and Rays over the next 10 seasons.
  • 7

    Norm Johnson: Johnson, the Seahawks’ placekicker from 1982 through 1990, kicked 228 field goals during his nine-year run and made one Pro Bowl (1984). After the Seahawks released him in order to employ John Kasay, Johnson went onto play nine more years for Atlanta (1991-94), Pittsburgh (1995-98) and Philadelphia (1999). During those nine seasons, Johnson kicked 249 field goals. He led the NFL in field goal percentage in 1993 (96.3 percent) and made the Pro Bowl that year.
  • 6

    Ray Allen: Allen has averaged 17.4, 18.2, 16.3 and 17.3 points per game in the four seasons since the Sonics sent him and Glen Davis to the Celtics for Jeff Green, Wally Szczerbiak, Delonte West and a 2008 second-round draft pick (Trent Plaisted). He made three All-Star teams since decamping Seattle and a week ago became the NBA’s all-time 3-point leader.
  • 5

    Kevin Mawae: Mawae played center for the Seahawks from 1994-97 before departing in free agency to the New York Jets. He never represented Seattle in a Pro Bowl game, but made eight appearances, most by any former Seahawk, in the contest following his Seattle exit.
  • 4

    Steve Hutchinson: A three-time All-Pro left guard with the Seahawks (2003-05), Hutchinson has been a four-time Pro Bowler and a three-time first-team All-Pro since leaving for the Minnesota Vikings (his departure came just weeks after Seattle appeared in Super Bowl XL). No Seattle sports team ever fell apart faster after the loss of one player than the Seahawks did following Hutchinson’s departure. In many ways, the Seahawks still haven’t recovered.
  • 3

    Alex Rodriguez: Rodriguez could easily move up on this list because he, too, is a future first-ballot Hall of Famer, provided voters don’t hold his steroid use against him the way they’ve held it against Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro. Since leaving Seattle following the 2000 season, A-Rod has won three MVP awards, two Major League Player of the Year awards, six Silver Slugger awards and two Gold Gloves. He hit 189 home runs as a Mariner and 424 since departing.
  • 2

    Dennis Johnson: Impetuous and moody when he played for the Sonics (MVP of the 1979 NBA Finals), Johnson went to Phoenix in a one-for-one trade for Paul Westphal, whose Seattle career was cut short due to injuries. Johnson wound up in Boston, where he won two championship rings with the Celtics. The Basketball Hall of Fame welcomed him, belatedly and posthumously — in 2010.
  • 1

    Randy Johnson: The Big Unit pitched in Seattle for 10 years (1989-98), becoming the franchise’s all-time wins (130) and strikeouts leader (2,162). But the second half of his career was better. Johnson won four of his five Cy Young awards and 173 of his 303 career wins after departing in a trade. A co-World Series MVP (with Arizona) and No. 2 in baseball’s all-time strikeout list, Johnson will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. And he’ll probably enter Cooperstown as a Diamondback, not a Mariner.

“Top 5 List” is published every Friday as part of Sportspress Northwest’s package of home-page features collectively titled, “The Rotation.”

The Rotation’s weekly schedule:

  • Monday: That Was The Week That Was — A snarky, day-by-day review of the week just ended.
  • Tuesday: Wayback Machine — Sports historian David Eskenazi’s deep dive into local sports history, replete with photo eye candy.
  • Wednesday: Nobody Asks But Us — We ask, and answer, fun and quirky questions nobody else is asking.
  • Thursday: Water Cooloer Cool: Art Thiel takes on the weekend for the benefit of the more casual fan.
  • Friday: Top 5 List — The alpha and omega of Northwest sports, at least as far as we’re concerned.



  • zippy0

    NOOOOO- the only reason SF won 13 games was an amazing defense- Alex Smith did not lead anything — he did a trent dilfer impersonation- Willis lead the team (like Lewis did for Ravens) in rare defensive lead team– NO ALEX SMITH

  • drshort

    Isn’t Smith an unrestricted free agent? If Seattle wanted him, why not just go after him regardless of what Manning does. I happen to think he’s a big upgrade over TJ

  • RadioGuy

    Alex Smith a “big upgrade” over Tarvaris Jackson?  I don’t agree.  Smith was in the right place at the right time.  Finding a $100 bill on the sidewalk doesn’t make you a financial wizard…it just makes you lucky.

    If Manning does sign with the 49ers, the leftover QB I’d like to pluck off their roster isn’t Smith, it’s Colin Kaepernick, who is an absolute stud:  He’s 6’6,” runs the 40 in 4.53 and can juke a DB out of his jockstrap, and is the only QB in D1 history to pass for 2,000+ yards and run for 1,000+ yards three years in a row.  What Pete Carroll could do a with guy like that under center.  Harbaugh loves him, though (he had Kaepernick work with Luck during the lockout so he’d have a better feel for what Harbaugh likes to do once camp finally opened), and probably wouldn’t let him go.

  • Radams5150

    literally blown away this guy wasn’t drafted. even in this now pass happy league the guy is a great reciever out of the backfield and a great blocker when he needs to be. he’s an easy 2nd round pick on talent and determination alone. great for the eagles and bad that the hawks couldn’t see this value!!!

    • Artthiel

       Apparently NFL docs saw enough damage to say it’s not worth a draft choice, especially after the hard miles he put in at UW.

  • jafabian

    You’d think someone would draft him, give him a contract laden with various health incentive clauses and stash on on some PUP list if necessary.   The trend in the NFL with RB’s is playing the RB by committee approach.  Polk could still fill that kind of role easily.

    • Artthiel

       When it comes to draft choices, teams are often more risk-averse than with vets. 

  • RadioGuy

    I’m a lifelong Cougars fan, but I wish Chris Polk well and hope he proves he can play (and play well) in the NFL.

    • Artthiel

       Noble of you, Radio. Glad to know some Cougs fans see beyond the colors.

      • RadioGuy

        Thanks, Art.  I grew up near Seattle when guys like Sonny Sixkiller, Jim Krieg, Bo Cornell and Ernie Janet (who was on my P-I route when he was with the Bears) were playing for them, so I liked them early on…except for one week a year.  Mom did a great job of indoctrination.

  • Huskiesrock06

    I hope Polk continues to shine like he did at UW.  I just wish Seattle would have taken Polk at the very least as a FA pickup

  • Huskiesrock06

    Funny how NFL teams will take proven drug users, felons ect. but they wont take a player who might have a problem with his shoulders.  I didnt hear teams saying oh Andrew Luck has a knee problem yet he was taken #1