November 30, 2006
- Lenny Wilkens
, legendary and respected NBA player, coach and executive, has joined the Seattle SuperSonics and Storm ownership team to fill the newly created position of Vice Chairman, Professional Basketball Club (PBC), Clayton I. Bennett
, Chairman of the PBC, announced today.
“I am very pleased Lenny has agreed to join our group, and believe his addition will bring immeasurable value as well as regional credibility to our efforts to build a world-class arena in the Greater Seattle area and secure a bright future for our teams and business,” Bennett said.
In his new senior management role with PBC, Wilkens will oversee external community relations and business advancement activities as well as serve as an advisor to ownership on basketball operations. He will also continue as lead analyst on Sonics’ telecasts aired by Fox Sports Net.
“I know the NBA and I know the community, and I’m really looking forward to this opportunity to assist the Sonics in any way I can,” Wilkens said.
Bennett said the roles of General Manager Rick Sund and Coach Bob Hill will not change.
Wilkens spent 45 years in the NBA as a coach and player and also has significant broadcast experience. He 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 points and 8.2 assists per game.
Prior to the 1969-70 season, Wilkens was asked to become player-coach. After two seasons as player-coach, Wilkens returned to his role as a player only and was subsequently dealt to the Cleveland Cavaliers. In 1977 he 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.
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 honors include his induction into 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. Wilkens averaged 16.5 points and 6.7 assists over a 15-year NBA 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. The Sonics retired his #19 jersey in 1979.