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 hardcourt.

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 today?

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 around 12-9...Willis.

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.