June 13, 2006
- FSN announced today that NBA Hall of Famer and Seattle basketball legend Lenny Wilkens
has been named the new color analyst for Sonics telecasts on the network. After 46 years in the NBA as a coach, player and broadcaster, Wilkens’ keen understanding of the game will make for a gripping broadcast team as he’s matched alongside Kevin Calabro. As a result of the Sonics broadcasts no longer being produced as a simulcast, Calabro and Wilkens will be seen and heard exclusively for a minimum of 72 telecasts on FSN beginning with the 2006-07 season.
"Lenny Wilkens has more basketball experience, knowledge and credibility than just about anyone in the business," commented Mark Shuken, Vice President and General Manager of FSN Northwest. "His unique ability to communicate basketball insights coupled with the familiarity and affection fans in Seattle regard him with will make him an instant asset to our telecasts. It is an honor to have Coach Wilkens and the dynamic broadcast team he will form with Kevin Calabro on our network."
Wilkens spent the 2005-06 season as FSN’s NBA expert, providing insight and analysis from both KeyArena and the FSN studio for all NBA content. Wilkens had previously worked for FSN as a color analyst for Pac-10 men’s basketball before he returned to the bench in 2004 as the interim Head Coach of the New York Knicks.
"The opportunity afforded to me by FSN is exciting for many reasons," said Wilkens. "Not only do I get to remain in the Northwest and work with the premier regional sports network in the country, I will be a part of what I believe is a new era for the Sonics and I get to experience it all alongside the man that I think is the best in the business – Kevin Calabro."
Wilkens first came to Seattle in 1968 when he was traded from the St. Louis Hawks, where he had spent his first eight seasons and made five All-Star appearances. The expansion Sonics were entering their second season in 1968-69, and Wilkens helped them to a 30-52 record by averaging 22.4 ppg and 8.2 apg. Prior to the 1969-70 season, Wilkens was asked to become player-coach. After two seasons as player-coach, Wilkens was forced by management to choose between the two roles. When he chose to remain on the roster as a player, he was subsequently dealt to the Cleveland Cavaliers. In 1977 Wilkens returned to Seattle as the Director of Player Personnel, but shortly thereafter was back at the helm and coaching the Sonics to a playoff berth. In his first full season as the Head Coach of the Seattle SuperSonics, Wilkens led the franchise to the 1979 NBA Championship.
"Lenny Wilkens' career in the NBA has remarkably spanned over five decades, so it is an understatement to say that I am looking forward to tapping in to the knowledge that he possesses, both as a player and as a coach," said Calabro, the Voice of the Sonics who has been calling games for 19 seasons. "His insight and familiarity with the game will be invaluable to me personally as well as for the telecast."
In 32 seasons as an NBA head coach, Wilkens is the all-time winningest coach in NBA history with a career coaching record of 1,315-1,133 (.537). The Brooklyn native’s career has been filled with honors. Wilkens has been enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as both a player (1988) and coach (1998), sharing that unique double honor with John Wooden and Bill Sharman. During the NBA’s 50th Anniversary celebration in 1996, Wilkens was not only named one of the 10 Greatest Coaches in NBA History, but one of the League’s 50 Greatest Players as well. He earned a pair of Olympic gold medals as an assistant coach with the original 1992 “Dream Team” in Barcelona and as head coach of the American squad at the 1996 Games in Atlanta.
One of the greatest point guards in NBA history, Wilkens averaged 16.5 points and 6.7 assists over a 15-year playing career with the St. Louis Hawks (1960-68), Sonics (1968-72), Cavaliers (1972-74) and Blazers (1974-75). A nine-time NBA All-Star and MVP of the 1971 Game at San Diego, he is ninth on the all-time NBA list with 7,211 career assists. His #19 jersey was retired by the Sonics in 1979.
FSN Northwest is the cable home of the Seattle Mariners, Seattle SuperSonics, Portland Trail Blazers, Seattle Storm, Washington Huskies, Washington State Cougars, Oregon State Beavers and Gonzaga Bulldogs. The region reaches more than 3.4 million cable homes in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Alaska. FSN reaches more than 81 million homes through its 20 regional sports channels, and serves as the only supplier of national, regional and local sports programming.