There haven’t been many basketball players like Dominique Wilkins. The former star for the Atlanta Hawks and 2006 inductee into the Basketball Hall of Fame is one of the greatest dunkers of all-time, an uncanny mix of devastating power and awe-inspiring finesse when he rose above the rim. While he’s most well-known for dunking, Wilkins game went far beyond thunderous jams – he averaged nearly 25 points and 7 rebounds per game over the course of his career. He made it to nine All-Star Games. He was so great for the Hawks that he even has a statue outside of Philips Arena.
But since his career ended in 1999, Wilkins has kept busy. He is a color commentator who covers the Hawks and has become one half of one of the league’s best announcing duos alongside Bob Rathbun. More importantly, Wilkins – who was diagnosed with type-2 diabetes when he was 40 years old – has worked to help people manage the illness.
Now 56, Wilkins sat down with us to discuss the 2016-17 Hawks, dunking in the NBA, the legendary 1988 Dunk Contest between himself and Michael Jordan, and his work with Novo Nordisk to form the Diabetes Dream Team for healthy tips to live with diabetes.
Bill DiFilippo: In your opinion, who’s the best dunker in the NBA and why?
Dominique Wilkins: That’s a good one. I’d probably say in-game dunker would probably be someone like Blake Griffin. But as far as contests, you gotta give it to (Zach) LaVine because he won the Dunk Contest. But if I had to pick a guy, I probably would say (Aaron) Gordon.
Let’s kind of take a different take on this question: which dunker reminds you the most of yourself?
Well I don’t think it’s one guy. I think it’s a combination of guys. You know, I was a finesse as well as a power dunker. The thing I did, a lot of my creativity came in games, it wasn’t in dunk contests.