Dominique’s Greatest Moments - 21

Hawks legend Dominique Wilkins was recently inducted into the Hall of Fame, as you may have heard. We here at cannot get enough of Nique, and are constantly scouring the internet for video of his days as the Human Highlight Film. On December 1st, the Hawks will be honoring Dominique as part of Hardwood Classic Nights, with the team wearing throwback uniforms representing the 1986 season.

To get ready for the festivities, is counting down the 21 greatest moments of Wilkins' career. Check back daily as we update the countdown every weekday leading up to the Dec. 1 match-up with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Sept. 3, 1982: Dominique Wilkins acquired from the Utah Jazz in exchange for John Drew, Freeman Williams, and cash.

The face of the Hawks franchise was almost never a Hawk. It seems easy to forget that Wilkins was not actually an original draft pick of the franchise, but it's true. Atlanta went 42-40 during the 1981-82 season, and though they missed the playoffs that season, they weren't "bad" enough to warrant a high-enough selection to draft Wilkins, who was coming off an All-American career at Georgia. It seems convenient today that the Hawks would have drafted such a prodigious home-grown talent (much like Josh Smith), but with the #10 pick of the first round, obtaining Dominique on their own was a pipe dream.

Instead, the team managed to trade for his rights, giving up veterans John Drew and Freeman Williams (and cash) to obtain the Human Highlight Film. And the rest, as they say, is history. Though the Hawks did obtain a future Hall-of-Famer in the deal, it should be noted that Drew played pretty well in three seasons for Utah, averaging 21.2 ppg in 1983. Williams however played in only 18 games the next season, and only 9 more thereafter, in 1986 for the Washington Bullets.

Michael Gearon Sr.
current Hawks owner and Hawks President at the time of the trade
"We all knew what a special talent Dominique was. The question for us was, could we afford him? He and Darryl Dawkins (who was with the Sixers at the time) were both available for about the same price, and we had to decide which direction to go. Frank Layden, the GM of the Jazz, told us he'd give us the rights to Wilkins for $1 million dollars. We didn't really have that kind of money just laying around, so we had to get it approved by everyone on the Turner board of directors.

So, we were at a meeting of the board, and Ted Turner asked if there was anything we could do to help the Hawks. I spoke up and told him about the offer for Nique. Ted turned to Henry Aaron, who was on the board at the time, to ask him what he thought. Hank said, 'We should go get him.' Not many people know he was helpful in bringing Dominique to Atlanta.

You never know how these things can turn out. At the end of that first year, many people still thought we should have gone for Dawkins, but obviously, in the long run, it wasn't true."

Tree Rollins
teammate of Wilkins' from 1982-88
"The funny thing is, at the time, the players weren't really happy about the deal. John Drew was a player. Nothing against Dominique, but he wasn't a known quantity at the time. Drew was a proven player - we knew what he had with him. So trading for a rookie was tough. Obviously though, it worked out pretty well for us!"