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Dominique Wilkins

Dominique Wilkins, the franchise's symbolic marquee player, earned his nickname as the “Human Highlight Film." From his collegiate days at the University of Georgia, until he ended his NBA career in 1999 with the Orlando Magic, no other player electrified the basketball world in the same way.

This 6’8, 224-pound forward entered the NBA scene after being drafted in the first round by the Utah Jazz in 1982 from the University of Georgia. He was promptly dealt to the Hawks in a trade that involved John Drew and Freeman Williams. As soon as he suited up for the Hawks, Wilkins took off on his spectacular journey as an NBA standout, which eventually placed him in the record books as the Hawks all-time franchise leader in most offensive categories.

As a rookie, he averaged 17.5 ppg and was named to the All- NBA Rookie Team. The following season, he showed significant improvement. While averaging 21.6 ppg, he started a streak of averaging above 20 points per game for 11 consecutive seasons. Known for his incredible dunks, Wilkins was the NBA Slam Dunk Champion two times in his career, once in 1985 and again in 1990.

In the late 1980s, "'Nique" helped carry the Hawks to 50 wins in four straight seasons from 1985-89. In 1986 he won the NBA scoring title with an average of 30.3 ppg. In the same year, he was named to the All-NBA First Team and made an appearance in the NBA All-Star game, which he would do nine times in his storied career. He continued to contribute in scoring and all-around play and was awarded with All-NBA Second Team honors in 1987, ’88, ’91 and ’93. He was also named to All-NBA Third Team in 1989 and 1994.

After the Hawks narrowly missed the Eastern Conference Finals in 1988, when Larry Bird and 'Nique faced off in their legendary battle at Boston Garden, the club possibly missed its window of opportunity to reach an NBA finals. But 'Nique continued to excel. He recorded a career high of 9.0 rpg in 1990-91. In 1992, he set an NBA record, hitting 23 free throws in a single game without a miss. Also during that season, Wilkins suffered an Achilles tendon injury which sidelined him for the rest of the year. But the following season he came back even stronger and became the 17th player in NBA history to accumulate 20,000 points.

In a move that changed the landscape of the franchise, Wilkins was traded to the Los Angeles Clippers on February 24, 1994 in exchange for Danny Manning. After the trade, Wilkins played in many different places before retiring. After the 1993-94 season, he signed as a free agent with the Boston Celtics. then signed on to play for Panathinaikos Athens of the Greek League. While overseas, he averaged 20.9 ppg and 7 rebounds, led the team to the European Championship for Men’s Clubs in 1996 and was named MVP of the European Final Four in Paris.

Returning to the NBA in 1996, he signed a free agent with the San Antonio Spurs and led the team in scoring (18.2 ppg). Then, Wilkins signed on to play with Teamsystem in Italy during the next season. Dominique played his last season with the Orlando Magic in the 1998-1999 campaign, alongside brother Gerald.

Dominique Wilkins’ #21 uniform has been retired as one of the greatest Hawks of all-time. Wilkins will always be remembered for his acrobatic plays, vicious dunks and phenomenal scoring ability. He is one of only 12 NBA players to score over 25,000 points, and left the league ranked seventh on the all-time scoring list with 26,534 points and 10th in career scoring average at 25.3 ppg. He is currently the VP of Basketball in the Hawks' front office.

  • Wilkins' NBA.com History Section Bio