5 Q’s with Kevin Willis
When Kevin Willis first joined the Atlanta Hawks at the beginning of the 1984
season, he joined a nucleus that would eventually include such Hawks fan
favorites as Spud Webb, Cliff Levingston, and of course, Dominique Wilkins.
Though those guys have long since retired, Willis continues to be a physical
marvel, performing at a high-enough level to carve out a twenty-year career for
himself in the NBA. Wednesday at the Hawks practice facility in Philips Arena
Willis was introduced to the media as the newest member of the 2004-05 Atlanta
Hawks. The 42-year old Willis spent the first ten years of his career with the
Hawks, and was with the team for many of their greatest successes. Willis will
be counted on to provide toughness and leadership for the young Hawks, a few of
whom weren't even born when Willis first laced up his shoes on the NBA
Hawks.com had a chance to catch up with Willis at the event and discuss with him
his return to Atlanta and what it will be like rejoining with `Nique.
Hawks.com: Dominique came in the league one year before you did, and retired
several years ago. What would be the score if the two of you played one-on-one
Kevin Willis: Well, I don't want to make too many predictions until I see
`Nique in some shorts out there on the court, but I think it would be probably
Hawks.com: What has kept you motivated to continue playing so long?
KW: Just a love of the game of basketball. I enjoy getting up and coming
to the court every day, and as long as I feel that way, I want to try to
contribute as much as I can.
Hawks.com: You are noted for being one of the more sculpted physical
specimens in the league. What is your secret for staying in such good shape?
KW: I don't let myself get out of shape. I work out consistently and try
to keep, you know, the juices flowing, and as long as I have maintained that it has
kept me in good shape.
Hawks.com: What are some of your favorite memories of your first tour of duty
with the Hawks (from 1984-1994)?
KW: We really grew together my first few years here. Hanging out with my
teammates on the road, guys like Jon Battle, Jon Koncak, Spud. We would hang out
on the road, or here in Atlanta, going to restaurants, or to Cliff Levingston's
pool parties, it was all great. Plus we really challenged each other on the
court. And watching some of Dominique's dunks wasn't too bad either.
Hawks.com: What has changed the most about the game from when you came to the
league to now?
KW: The game now is more about the off the court stuff. We never cared
about that when I started out, we just came to play ball. We didn't worry about
tattoos and all that nonsense. We were all about coming out to compete and try
to win ballgames.
Micah Hart is the Assistant Web Editor for the Atlanta Hawks.