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Old 04-28-05, 11:57 AM
ro_50's Avatar
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my story on Wilkins: Speech a slam dunk

This was suppose to be off the record: But Nique said he loves a player out of Utah (He's Australian) as the first pick in the Draft. Put that in the back of your head if the Hawks have the first pick in the draft. He said this 7-0 marvel reminds him of a little of TD.


Wilkins visits KZoo

Speech a slam dunk
Thursday, April 28, 2005
By Ronak Patel
[email protected] 388-8400

Kyle Lockett is very much like most 14-year-olds -- he loves to play basketball, enjoys the NBA and is a big fan of LeBron James and Tracy McGrady.

But on Wednesday at Anderson Athletic Center, Lockett paid homage to the "old school."

Lockett, an eighth-grader at Portage West Middle School who plays for the AAU Kalamazoo Hawks, was wearing a vintage 1987 Dominique Wilkins No. 21 Atlanta Hawks jersey.

"I had to break it out tonight," Lockett said with a smile.

His reason was simple. Wilkins, a nine-time NBA All-Star and currently vice president of basketball operations for the Hawks, was a guest speaker at Kalamazoo College.

Among the topics of the lecture, titled "Don't End Up on the Sidelines: Equip Yourself for the Future," was how different players are today than when he played for the Hawks from 1982-1994.

"A lot of players today don't want to play through their minor injuries," Wilkins said. "The motto back when I was playing was 'If you can walk, you can play.' Guys like Michael (Jordan), Larry (Bird), Magic (Johnson), Isiah (Thomas) understood that.

"We would play for free. The game was our lives and our passion and today's athletes don't have the same drive."

Lockett wasn't the only one who lived out a fantasy. There were many others in the stands who listened closely to Wilkins as he strolled from one side of the court to the other during his 15-minute speech and 20-minute question-and-answer session.

Wilkins, who earned the nickname "The Human Highlight Film" for his spectacular dunks, also judged a slam-dunk contest -- won by Comstock's Quentin Hunt -- and signed autographs for about 30 minutes.

"That was a dream come true for him to sign my jersey," Lockett said after meeting Wilkins.

During his speech, Wilkins discussed the role college basketball played in getting him ready for life in the NBA. He was an All-American at the University of Georgia in 1982.

"College made me into a MAN," Wilkins said.

Among the questions Wilkins fielded from the crowd, one stood out. It came from a middle-aged woman and pertained to the style-over-substance manner that is prevalent in the NBA today, and how it's impacting kids.

Wilkins' reply made every kid stop and think: "Kids see the glitz, glamour and the money we make; but what they don't realize is how hard you have to bust your butt to get here and work even harder to stay in the league."

Wilkins also touched on the importance of being yourself.

"My idol was Dr. J (Julius Erving) and my first game against him, I went up to him before the tip-off and told him, 'Dr. J, I want to be just like you.' Dr. J looked me in the eyes and said, 'Dominique, don't try to be the next Dr. J, be the first Dominique Wilkins.' "

Wilkins' visit to Kalamazoo required just one phone call. Kalamazoo College associate dean of students Karen Joshua-Wathel was looking for a guest lecturer, so she called her brother, Keith McAllister, who owns Mobile Wireless Security. McAllister just so happens to be friends with Wilkins, who is now the president of Mobile Wireless Security.

"This was a good fit because Wilkins brings credibility with the kids," Joshua-Wathel said. "They all know who he is."

McAllister added: "I deal with a lot of athletes and celebrities. Mr. Wilkins is one of the few genuine men the NBA has."

He's also one of the most popular men the NBA has seen. That much was evident by the standing ovation he received when he was introduced Wednesday.

"I'm here to tell (kids) to follow their dreams, but to become great, you must work hard," Wilkins said. "That's what we did -- MJ, myself, Dr. J. and Larry -- to get where we are at."

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Wilkins on

NBA age limit: "Age limit could be a good thing for the NBA. Its has is good points (players that are not ready wont be allowed to make the jump) and it has is bad points (guys like LeBron, that are ready, wont be able to enter the league."

if LeBron could be better than MJ: "There will never, ever be another MJ. He was so competitive and possessed on the court, like a devil. His will to win was greater than any other player the league has ever seen."

Pistons' title chances: "Whoever comes out of the Eastern Conference, Detroit or Miami, will win the NBA Championship."

Best players he's played agaisnt: "Cant say just one. MJ, Dr. J, Magic, Larry are all up there."

Last edited by ro_50; 04-28-05 at 12:01 PM.
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