Dominique Wilkins may not be the most underrated player ever, but if there’s a Top 10 list floating around, let’s just say he’s somewhere in there. How ‘Nique is remembered in history as an athletic anomaly who played above the rim is equal parts fair and unfair.
Per Bill Simmons’ Book Of Basketball, think of every non-center in history and name the ones who averaged between 26 and 31 points for a solid decade – Allen Iverson, Jerry West, Michael Jordan and Dominique. Seriously, that’s it. Health being the most important factor, add LeBron next year who is nine straight and counting; ironically, Kobe is too. But as of right now, ‘Nique remains one of four players in history to pull off the feat. He wasn’t getting them all off dunks either. Sans a consistent mean streak on defense, the ’85 and ’90 Dunk Contest winner was an offensive glutton.
The biggest strikes working against “The Human Highlight Reel” was never playing in a Conference Finals and only playing with four All-Star teammates during his glory years ((Doc Rivers, ’88; Moses Malone, ’89; Willis, ’92; Mookie Blaylock, ’94). A head-scratching fact, indeed, especially when considering how differently the ’80s would’ve panned out – for better and/or worse – had the Lakers drafted Dominique #1 overall in the ’82 Draft and not James Worthy. Who knows if the Lakers win three more titles, but Magic to lobbing to ‘Nique might’ve singlehandedly brought forth the creation of YouTube much earlier than expected. But to be known for something game-changing is better than to be known for nothing at all.
In regards to Dominique and finishing at the rim, these four op’acts (opinions and facts merged together; yes, I just made that up) I know. One, he’s only behind Vince Carter in terms of the best in-game dunker ever. Two, no one in the history of life dunked better and with more power off two feet than ‘Nique. Three, he probably should’ve won the 1988 Dunk Contest, too. Unfortunately, the contest was in Chicago and his competition was the guy seen in the background in the picture above. Dominique could’ve dunked blind-folded, slightly hungover and strapped to a chair and it wouldn’t have mattered.
And four, his two-hand flush/powerbomb on Larry Bird in Atlanta was one of those basketball moments I wish I had been old enough to appreciate when it happened. Pippen on Ewing holds the top spot of most vicious facial dunk largely because of the stakes – Pip was pissed about a no-foul call the prior possession, caught the ball on the wing, dunked on Ewing, looked down on him and cursed him out, then went to Spike Lee pointing a finger in his face saying it was his fault and catching a technical foul for doing so. With Dominique and Larry, it really appeared as if ‘Nique broke not only his back, but his soul in the process. He didn’t, but still.
The following montage are the “Top 10” poster moments of Wilkins’ career. Since it being the weekend and all, play the same drinking with this clip as we did with Vince. Only this time, whenever someone says “oh shit!” take a double shot. A surprising fact about life is how quickly sobriety can vanquish when witnessing Dominique freak a double-clutch, reverse on fast break and also demoralize three players at once.