Thursday, 8 October 2015
DOMINIQUE WILKINS Feature-ATLien
By TIM DAVID HARVEY.
'Me and you, your momma and your cousin watchin' too. Rollin' down the stripe like vogues. Comin' up slamming like rising Cadillac doors.' 50, 50, 50, 50...FIFTY! Slam, slam, slam, SLAM...DUNK! A double-pump...through the legs. A windmill...a tomahawk. A reverse...one-handed. Off the glass...through the hoop. BANG! Nobody...nobody put it down quite like 'Nique. You can ask a peer panel of judges. The good Dr. J, Julius Erving before him. The J.R. Rider's, Harold Minor's, Vince Carter's and Tracy McGrady's he inspired after him and countless lay-up lines more of Jason Richardson's and fellow Hawk flyers like Josh Smith. Hell even Kobe got his beans from this man. They may as well rename Chick Hearn's slam-dunk Dominique in Wilkins honour. You see the statue in the ATL, its immortalised in bronze forever. That outstretched limb, strong-arming many an in-game dunk like it was a contest...and when it came to the best thing about the middle of February's All-Star weekend until the wheel changed its fortune, it was all over. This all-time, top 50 player was that half century across the board, first attempt, second attempt, win. He beat the best, handed it over to his five foot, not much teammate Spud Webb to show the world that small potatoes could fry and then he did it again. Again and again and wowing the crowds until one man with a gold chain hanging round his neck, chewing gum like he owned the place, swagger stepped up to the free throw line with those wing tips. In the air that night, it wasn't just the hawk that could fly.
Chicago had Mike. New York had Pat. Boston, Bill or the Bird. And when it came to Los Angeles...well take your pick. Magic and Kareem, Wilt and West, or even Shaq and Kobe...and that's just for starters. But Dominique belonged to the A. And anyone who called Atlanta, Georgia home, sweet brown home. Just ask Andre 3000, or the documentary he narrated 30 for 30. Even if this Outkast flip flopped with the rock from Florida to California, all the way to Europe. He was and will always be an ATLien through and through like that classic comic-book cover artwork. Rising like elevators. "Me and you" and all of that. And as for that out of this world play it really did seem extra special...or terrestrial. Are you alien?! Straight from the ATL this Babylon on the Atlanta Hawks starting five was the new millenium before the 'Back To The Future' eighties even gave way to the golden era of the 1990's National Basketball Association. But every time this guy raced down court in those pumped up Reebok's he left two tracks of flames from his sneaker steps like a Delorean, taking flight like a hover board before hitting the clock tower like an explosion of lightning. They say the NBA is the LeBron games league it is today thanks to the 80's redux, redemption and revolution of the rivalry of Magic and Bird...but how could they forget about the dominant Dominique? Wilkins with as many dunks as Coach Lenny had wins, but he was much more than just a slam. In the pixelated, digital age of the 80's that saw the future like the legacy of Tron this legend was it for the Pac Man of his Hawks, eating up defenders like that yellow ball of smiley face destruction. A ghost to no one. The Hawks may have brought Pac back like albums of unreleased Shakur material, whilst reinventing themselves in this digital age in neon, but up in the downtown Atlanta skyline lights nothing shines brighter than the glow of 'Nique. Unique and before his time inspiring a different brand of ball on those who spent most of their days on the playground, now everyone else shooting some bball outside of his old school is just a retro imitation in throwback testament. Still nobody could quite catch it like the Fresh Prince with the Will Smith high-top fade who would be king.
Before he was welcomed to Atlanta like Ludacris and Jermaine Dupri this so, so def hit-maker of filmed highlights of humans was born Jaques Dominique Wilkins in Paris, France after his father was stationed their with the Air Force. Little did pops know that one day lil' 'Nique was going to soar higher that the Eiffel as a towering legend across any landmark in the world. Coast to coast, the Wilkins family moved around, from Dallas, Texas through the wire to Baltimore. But in Washington, North Carolina they found a home and a school for Dom to go to. At Washington High School D.W. won back-to-back MVP's and championships and a huge 48 points, had 27 rebounds, 9 dunks, and 8 blocks performance made the Sports Illustrated magazine he'd one day front and cover name him as one of the 'Faces In The Crowd' and one to watch. More sweet play came with Georgia's University as this 21.6 a game man bound for Atlanta was named the SEC Men's Basketball Player of the Year in 1981. Which then led this junior to declare for the 1982 draft a year later and be declared by the Utah Jazz with the third pick in that new star lottery behind Terry Cummings and Los Angeles Lakers legend James Worthy. But the Jazz couldn't make money play so Dominique wouldn't in Utah...which was fine with him. Things got a little salty in lake city as Nevada wasn't Dominique's ideal destination and the Jazz franchise recently displaced from their New Orleans home couldn't afford the star to be Wilkins. So they dealt with the A for Hawk players John Drew, Freeman Williams. You remember them right? Well at least they got some cash out of it and pick and rolls later would give this 90's dominant franchise the delivery of John Stockton and the mailman of Karl Malone's post service. But we can't help but think what it would have been like on the mirror side of a parallel universe and imagine what it would have been like for the first, real, original big-three. Malone would have finally got that ring the ranch hand even went to Los Angeles to try and get and could you imagine John's assist to Dominique? The stock would soar!
Yet Wilkins showed that all he needed was one. One ball and one hoop to become the one. The original rafter worthy number 21 with offensive dunks, before Kevin Garnett was the kid in Minnesota. A lone wolf who even with Spud in his web became the icon of the Atlanta Hawks franchise and the legend of his legacy during a five season straight, 50 plus win bid. The best, even when he finally got more help in the post with veteran ironman Kevin Willis and the late, great Moses Malone. Even bigger than their record winning campaign of last season and their across the board All-Stars of Al Horford, Paul Millsap, Jeff Teague and Kyle Korver. Even that Hawk's arrow, bullseye perfect three-ball couldn't fly quite like the U-Nique Dominique. Only the Pistol of legend Pete Maravich could possibly draw and outshoot Wilkins with more bullets in the gun. And forget Stockton...imagine if that double team got together?! Duos would never be as dynamic...and yes we mean you too Shaq and Kobe. You see many talk about the rivalry between the dunking Hawk Dominique and the G.O.A.T. Michael Jordan, but the flight time, aerial assault battle between the Hawk and the Air wasn't the only limit to this sky high talent. Even grounded on parquet, this Hawk got his talons into another Bird and his wars with Boston Celtic Larry was one of legend...maybe not with the same tricks of trade of Magic's one, but certainly one that could rival the Hick From French Licks appointment with Doctor Erving. And just imagine the dunking duke-outs with Julius and the J's, because with Bird and more prey this Hawkeye Wilkins showed he had more range than just a couple of feet off the ground. The dunks where beautiful, but there was more to his defining game outside of that from the depths of downtown Atlanta (The three point gunner paced the league with 30 plus average, Durant numbers). Or the blue collar, suit and tie, business of hard worked hustle, clocking on on the boards. And lets not forget the unselfish team play of this boss player who still lent a hand an assist to his group with his work. That classic red and white striped, Hawk throwback and 80's, above the iron look of Dominique may be what this All-Star icon is most recognised for. But above that high-top fade was many hats for this man. He made Los Angeles Times clippings with the Los Angeles Clippers and the legend also had stints with storied franchises like the Celtics and Spurs before returning to his European roots and showing another continent from Greece to Italy a whole world of ball where he finally became the champion his heart already was. He even returned to America late in the nineties and his career to show he could still get up to some Magic in Orlando. But in the U.S.A. he belonged to the "US" of anyone who has Georgia on their area code and oh not just their mind. That was D, the A to the letter. Like the other three...the N.B.A. First and foremost, number one, with or without a dunk. It was this players ball!