Kevin Pelton, SUPERSONICS.COM
| October 6, 2006
Lenny Wilkens is one of just three men in the Basketball Hall of Fame as both a player and a coach, and he's excelled in both roles for the Seattle SuperSonics. During his playing career, Wilkens led the NBA in assists and winning All-Star MVP honors in his four years in Seattle. The latter three were spent as player-coach, and Wilkens returned in 1977 to coach the Sonics to consecutive NBA Finals and their first and thus far only NBA Championship in 1979. Now, Wilkens has a new role with the Sonics - color commentator for the team's FSN broadcasts, becoming the latest analyst to work with play-by-play broadcaster Kevin Calabro.
Wilkens, who has already been voted on to the Sonics 40th Anniversary Team, will be saluted along with Storm Coach Anne Donovan at tomorrow's Sonics & Storm Legends Tour event at Green Lake Community Center. After watching Friday's Sonics practice, Wilkens chatted with SUPERSONICS.COM.
SUPERSONICS.COM: Are you looking forward to joining the Sonics FSN broadcast?
"Once I got here and saw the city and met the people and got involved in the community, no matter where I've been, this has always been a special place for me."
: I really am. I think Kevin does a great, great job and to be with him and cover the games and do the color, it's something that I'm looking forward to. I think it will be exciting.
So you add this to playing, coaching and working in the front office. What else is left?
I've had a chance to do a lot of things. That's the beauty of basketball. There are so many things that you can do and contribute. I've done a little bit before on TV with ABC. Last year working with Fox, it was great - and that was mostly in studio. So I'm looking forward to this.
What does tomorrow's event and the 40th Anniversary celebration mean to you?
It's really something I'm looking forward to. I think that the Sonics have a rich tradition and history in this city, and to keep that going, I think it's worthwhile. I think there's much that the Sonics have done for the community and they continue to be involved and give back. It just speaks highly of the Sonics.
Could you have anticipated still being involved with the organization now when you were first traded to the Sonics in 1968?
No, not at all. In fact, when I first got traded here, I wasn't very happy because they were an expansion team and I was used to being in the playoffs. Once I got here and saw the city and met the people and got involved in the community, no matter where I've been, this has always been a special place for me. I look forward to tomorrow. I think that it speaks highly of the Sonics. There's no way you could have predicted what has happened, what has transpired. There's no way.
Why do you think you and so many former Sonics players have stayed in Seattle?
Well, we've had a good experience here. Everybody aspires to win a championship and to be able to have done that and see that in a city and how the city reacted, that just inspires people to want to get back there every year, win a championship. And no one has done it other than the Storm, which was great. It's easy to see why a lot of athletes have made their home here.
How often do fans come up to you to talk about your career or the Sonics?
All the time. I can't go anywhere in the city without someone saying, 'Thank you,' or hoping the Sonics get back to that level of play. There are great fans here. This is a wonderful community.