American basketball player
One of the most outstanding basketball players in National Basketball Association (NBA) history, Dominique Wilkins retired as a player after the 1998-99 season. At the time of his retirement, Wilkins ranked eighth on the all-time NBA scoring list with 26,668 points and 10th in career scoring average with 24.8 points per game. Wilkins did not stay away from the game for long, joining the administrative staff of the Atlanta Hawks in October 2000 as special assistant to the executive vice president. In October 2002 he was given additional responsibilities with the Hawks' basketball staff as an assistant in the area of player development. Wilkins not only played 15 seasons in the NBA but also spent a couple of seasons playing in Europe, leading Panathinaikos Athens of the Greek League to the European Championship for Men's Clubs in 1996 and playing for Italy's Teamsystem of Bologna during the 1997-98 season.
He was born Jacques Dominique Wilkins in Paris, France, on January 12, 1960. The son of an officer in the U.S. Air Force, Wilkins lived in a total of 10 cities in three different countries by the time he was 15. From his father, Wilkins and his siblings learned the value of selfconfidence, perseverance, and self-discipline. His mother taught her children the importance of family, spiritual values, and old-fashioned good manners. Back in the United States in his early teens, Wilkins attended high school in Washington, North Carolina, where he excelled in both basketball and track and was named to seven All-America teams in both sports. After high school he enrolled at the University of Georgia, where he was named an All-Southeastern Conference player three years in a row. In 1982 he was named to the All-America first team by Basketball Times, Basketball Weekly, and the NBA coaches, and to the All-America second team by the Associated Press.
Ending his college basketball career after his junior year as Georgia's leading scorer of all time-averaging 21.6 points and 7.5 rebounds per game, Wilkins put himself into the 1982 NBA draft. He was picked by the Utah Jazz in the first round and third pick overall, but Wilkins refused to sign with the Jazz. In September 1982, Wilkins was traded by the Jazz to the Atlanta Hawks for John Drew, Freeman Williams, and cash. He enjoyed an outstanding rookie season with the Hawks, averaging 17.5 points per game. During the 1983-84 season, his scoring average improved to 21.6 points per game. Wilkins's 1984-85 season with the Hawks was
even more impressive, but the team's performance overall was lackluster. Although Wilkins finished sixth in the league in scoring with 27.4 points per game, the Hawks ended the year with a disappointing record of 34-48. Wilkins also won his first slam dunk contest.
Leads the NBA in Scoring
During the 1985-86 season, Wilkins led the NBA in scoring with an average of 30.3 points per game. During the Hawks' playoff series against Detroit, he set records with an amazing 50 points, 19 field goals, and 15 free throws. He also made his first appearance in the NBA All-Star Game. The following season, Wilkins was named NBA Player of the Week after he scored his 10,000th point in the league. He finished second in scoring in the NBA for the 1986-87 season with an average of 29 points per game. He also returned to the All-Star Game for the second year in a row. With strong scoring from Wilkins, the Hawks recorded 50 wins or more for four straight seasons-from 1985-86 to 1988-89. In 1988 he turned in a dazzling performance during his third All-Star Game, scoring 29 points in 30 minutes of action. He went on to score an average of 31.2 points per game in the postseason. One of Wilkins's most memorable moments as an athlete came in the Eastern Conference semifinals, when he and Larry Bird of the Boston Celtics engaged in a point-for-point, basket-for-basket duel in the seventh game of the series. Sadly for the Hawks, the Celtics prevailed, crushing Atlanta's hopes of making it into the Eastern Conference finals.
Wilkins was again selected to play in the NBA All-Star Game during the 1988-89 season. For the season as a whole, he ranked seventh in NBA scoring, averaging 26.2 points and 6.9 rebounds per game. Twice during the season, he scored 41 points during a single game. During the 1989-90 season, Wilkins was selected to play in his fifth All-Star Game and also won his second slam dunk contest. He ranked fifth in NBA scoring with an average of 26.7 points per game and led the Hawks in steals with a total of 126.
Named NBA All-Star for Sixth Time
For the sixth time in his career, Wilkins was selected to play in the NBA All-Star Game during the 1990-91 season. Averaging 25.9 points and 9 assists per game for the season as a whole, he was honored by being named NBA Player of the Week during January 1991 and Player of the Month for February. Wilkins led the Hawks in scoring for the eighth consecutive season. Injury brought an early end to Wilkins's 1991-92 season but not before he was named an NBA All-Star for the seventh time in his career. During a game against Philadelphia in late January 1992, he ruptured his Achilles tendon, forcing him to miss the All-Star Game and the last 40 games of the season. Prior to his injury, Wilkins was averaging 28.1 points per game.
|1960||Born in Paris, France, on January 12|
|1978||Graduates from high school in Washington, North Carolina|
|1982||Enters NBA draft after junior year at University of Georgia and is drafted by Utah Jazz|
|1982||Refuses to sign with the Jazz and is traded to Atlanta Hawks|
|1992||Marries Nicole Berry on September 26|
|1994||Traded by Hawks to Los Angeles Clippers|
|1994-95||Plays for Boston Celtics|
|1995-96||Plays for Panathinaikos Athens of Greek League|
|1996-97||Plays for San Antonio Spurs|
|1997-98||Plays for Teamsystem of Bologna, Italy|
|1999||Retires from pro basketball after season with the Orlando Magic|
|2000||Hired as special assistant to executive vice president of Atlanta Hawks|
Wilkins bounced back from his injury in 1992-93 to score his 20,000th point in the Hawks' season opener against the New York Knicks. He also set an NBA record by sinking 23 free throws in a row without missing and set career and team highs with a total of 120 three-pointers for the season. For the season as a whole, he averaged 29.9 points and 6.8 rebounds per game. Although Wilkins enjoyed another strong season in 1993-94, he was traded in February 1994 to the Los Angeles Clippers. For the season as a whole, he averaged 26 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. After finishing up the 1993-94 season in Los Angeles, Wilkins returned to the East Coast, signing on with the Boston Celtics for the 1994-95 season, but he still did not feel at home. The following season he played for Panathinaikos Athens of the Greek League, leading the team to the European Championship. He returned to the United States for the 1996-97 season, playing for the San Antonio Spurs, but his scoring average, while still quite respectable, had dropped sharply to 18.2 points per game.
Plays for Italy's Teamsystem Bologna
After his year with the Spurs, Wilkins returned to Europe for the 1997-98 season, playing this time with Italy's Teamsystem Bologna. He returned to the United States in 1999, signing to play with the Orlando Magic, for which his younger brother, Gerald, also played. By season's end, however, both Wilkins brothers had been released by Orlando. For Dominique, it was the end of the road as a player. When he left the game, he ranked eighth on the NBA's all-time scoring list with 26,668 points and 10th in career scoring with an average of 24.8 points per game.
For Wilkins, Atlanta was home. For 12 seasons, he had played for the Hawks, and it was to the Hawks that he returned after a brief interval away from basketball altogether. In October 2000, he was hired as assistant to the executive vice president of the Hawks. In October 2002 his responsibilities increased when he was made a special assistant in the area of player development. In announcing that Wilkins was rejoining the Hawks organization, the club's president, Stan Kasten, who was general manager when the team acquired Wilkins's rights from the Jazz in 1982, said: "There were times when I was mad at him and there were times when I was frustrated with him, but I always loved him. He's the kind of guy for whom you will always feel great affection."
|ATL: Atlanta Hawks; BOS: Boston Celtics; LAC: Los Angeles Clippers; ORL: Orlando Magic; SA: San Antonio Spurs.|
Awards and Accomplishments
|1981||Named most valuable player at Southeastern Conference tournament|
|1983||Named to NBA's All-Rookie Team|
|1985-86||Wins NBA scoring title|
|1985, 1990||Wins NBA slam dunk title|
|1986||Named NBA Player of the Month for January|
|1986||Named to All-NBA first team|
|1986-94||Picked to play in NBA All-Star Game|
|1987-88, 1991, 1993||Named to All-NBA second team|
|1989, 1994||Named to All-NBA third team|
|2001||#21 jersey retired by Atlanta Hawks|
Address: c/o Atlanta Hawks, One CNN Center, Atlanta, GA 30303. Fax: (404) 827-3880. Phone: (404) 827-3800.
"Dominique Wilkins." Who's Who among African Americans, 14th ed. Detroit: Gale Group, 2001.
"Gerald Bernard Wilkins." Who's Who Among African Americans, 14th edition. Detroit: Gale Group, 2001.
Denberg, Jeff. "Wilkins' Retirement Officially Ends an Era." Atlanta Constitution (October 19, 2000): F4.
Pearlman, Jeff. "The Brothers' Magic Act: For the First Time in Their Long Careers, the Wilkinses Suit Up on the Same Team." Sports Illustrated (March 8, 1999): R4.
"Dominique Wilkins Bio." NBA History. http://www.nba.com/history/players/wilkins_bio.html (December 9, 2002).
"Dominique Wilkins: Bio." Dominique Wilkins Official Website. http://www.humanhighlight.com/bio.php (December 9, 2002).
"Dominique Wilkins: Career Averages." ESPN. http://espn.go.com/nba/profiles/stats/avg/0366.html (December 9, 2002).
Sketch by Don Amerman
Related Biography: Basketball Player Gerald Wilkins
Wilkins's younger brother, Gerald, began playing professional basketball in 1985 as a guard for the New York Knicks. The brothers played on the same team in 1999, when Dominique joined the Orlando Magic, for which Gerald had been playing since 1996. Their time together with the Magic was brief, as before the strike-shortened 1998-99 season ended, both brothers had been released by the team.
Gerald Bernard Wilkins was born in Atlanta, Georgia, on September 11, 1963. Unlike his older brother, Dominique, he played little basketball as a boy. Wilkins played for the Washington (N.C.) High School team, but he was unable to break into the starting lineup. The family moved to Atlanta shortly before his senior year. There Wilkins played for Southwest High School.
Wilkins played one year at Moberly Area Junior College in Moberly, Missouri, before moving to the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga. After graduation, he was drafted by the New York Knicks in the second round of the 1985 NBA draft. Wilkins played for the Knicks from 1985 to 1992, the Cleveland Cavaliers from 1992 to 1995, the Vancouver Grizzlies in 1995-96, and the Orlando Magic from 1996 until 1999.