Today Dominique Wilkins turns 55. Depending on your district and when you joined, that’s when some civil servants retire [insert Republican mimicry here]. But ‘Nique retired a long time ago back when a cramped jumper where he jumped too high, and an alien spring off two feet could net you scoring titles and All-Star game appearances. Today, the hordes strung out on an Excel spreadsheet would just lament the small forward’s 31.8 percent career average from deep and slough off the niche he inhabited for older fans, but no one would claim he was boring — especially in the air.
We once met Wilkins in an Italian airport some time in the spring of 1997. We were in Italy on a soccer sojourn for a select team in our area, and ‘Nique was playing overseas in the final days of his basketball odyssey. Some people in our party got an autograph, but we just gawked at him: that guy who lost to Spud Webb in the dunk contest and almost out-gunned Larry Bird in the playoffs. Yes, we thought of him in those dreadful also-ran moments, but we also noted how much easy confidence spiraled off him while lounging in the airport lounge, and it had nothing to do with the fact his party was towering over the entire concourse in some elegant Bespoke threads.
We never did get the urge to talk with him, possibly because he always said plenty on the break with a poster looming, and that was just plenty for us:
Happy birthday ‘Nique, we missing watching you recoil so hard on the rim, we’re still amazed you never broke your hand, though you certainly broke the psyche of plenty of rim protectors.
What do you think?
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