The Atlanta Hawks unveiled a statue of franchise legend Dominique Wilkins on Thursday. The ceremony featured a tribute video to The Human Highlight Film from some of his NBA contemporaries, including long-time rival Larry Bird.
And always true to form, The Legend couldn’t help but talk some good-natured trash at ‘Nique’s disposal.
Bird, of course, was no defensive maven himself. Both players would be lambasted for their lack of commitment on that end in the modern era, but the basketball world valued defensive effectiveness far less during the 1980s heyday.
Remember their epic clash in Game 7 of the 1988 Eastern Conference Semifinals? Wilkins had 47 points on a ridiculous 19-of-24 from the field, while Bird poured in 20 of his 34 points during the decisive fourth quarter. You’ll note that the Hall-of-Famers spent a fair amount of time checking one another, too.
Awesome, but also awful – Bird was no defender and Wilkins wasn’t, either.
But opposed to that failing becoming the overarching narrative trope that it did for James Harden before 2014-2015, it was considered a minor chink in their armor. Basketball and the way its analyzed, thankfully, sure has changed.
Bird was right, by the way. The monument doesn’t show ‘Nique in a defensive stance:
Mid-windmill and muscles strained with a perfect flat-top is definitely how we remember Wilkins most. And with installation of this statue, that’s how everyone else will, too.
[Video via LakersDynasty42]