THAT WAS THEN ... THIS IS NOW: Dominique and Kobe
The game has evolved dramatically over time, but NBA.com's That Was Then ... This Is Now proves the more things change, the more they stay the same. We compare two of the most exciting players to defy gravity: Dominique Wilkins and Kobe Bryant. Check back to see which old-school All-Star is most like: Tim Duncan (Feb. 6).
Wilt-Shaq
Thomas-Francis
Gervin-McGrady
-- By Rob Peterson


Name
DOMINIQUE WILKINS
KOBE BRYANT
Nickname
The Human Highlight Film
His first name is distinctive enough
Height
6-8
6-6
Weight
224
220
Career
(Seasons)
1982-97, 98-99
(15 NBA seasons)
1996-present
(7th NBA season)
A-S Selections
9
5 (includes 2003)
First
All-Star Game
1986
(in Dallas)
1998
(in New York)
Age (first A-S Game)
26
19
A-S scoring average
13.3 ppg
20.8 ppg
Best A-S
performance
1988:
29 pts., 5 reb., 1 blk.
2002:
31 pts., 5 reb., 5 asst.
A-S Game MVP
None
2002
Career avg.
24.8
20.6
Best season
30.7 ppg (1987-88)
28.5 ppg (2000-01)
Most memorable performance
Averaged 29.9 ppg for the 1992-93 season, one year after tearing his Achilles' tendon
After Shaq fouls out in OT of Game 4 of the 2000 NBA Finals, Bryant tallies the game winner with 5.9 seconds left.
THE SKINNY
The Human
Highlight Film:
56k | 300k
High-flying, gravity-defying, mesmerizing.

Dominique Wilkins and Kobe Bryant can both be described as such.

When Wilkins entered the NBA in 1982, he brought a powerful athleticism that hadn't been seen in the league in some time. Julius Erving was smooth and David Thompson could jump out of the building, but Wilkins was strong. With his speed, the quickness with which he jumped combined with the force of his dunks, Wilkins had moments where he looked like a super hero in short pants. He was one of the best finishers of a break the game has seen. And no one followed a missed shot, one of his own or his teammates', like Wilkins. His acrobatics earned him the nickname "The Human Highlight Film." He was also one of the first to perform windmill dunks in games.

Wilkins led the Hawks in scoring for 11 consecutive seasons and the NBA once, in the 1985-86 season with 30.3 points per game.

Despite being two inches shorter than Wilkins, Bryant uses his incredible athleticism to play above the rim as Dominque once did. Whereas Wilkins seemed to blast off, Bryant seems to glide. Still, Bryant is one of the game's best finishers around the hoop and often throws it down with the authority of a power forward or his teammate, Shaquille O'Neal.

Bryant's game, however, is more well-rounded, even at the tender age of 24, than Wilkins' ever was. Wilkins never averaged more than 3.8 assists per game in season. Bryant, since he was named a starter in the 1998-99 season, has never averaged fewer than 3.8 assists per game in a season. This year, Bryant is putting up his best all-round campaign yet -- 28.0 ppg, 7.4 rpg and 6.9 apg -- and is a threat to have a triple-double (he leads the league with five) every night.

Bryant also leads in another statistical category -- championship rings. He has three, Wilkins never made it to the Finals. Then again, 'Nique never had a Shaq on his side.

Photo credits: (Wilkins-- Getty/NBAE Photos; Bryant -- Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images)