MANILA, Philippines — NBA legend Dominique Wilkins is best known for his ferocious and electrifying dunks.
But the former Atlanta Hawks star, known as the ‘Human Highlight Film’, believes the biggest highlight of his career was simply reaching the NBA.
“Biggest highlight of my career? Making (it to) the NBA. Being selected to be part of the biggest sport in the world. That’s my biggest highlight,” Wilkins, 63, told reporters Sunday during his youth clinic at the NBA Community Court.
Wilkins was selected third overall by the Utah Jazz in the 1982 NBA Draft, but never played for the franchise until he was traded to Atlanta, where his career blossomed, becoming a nine-time NBA All-Star and scoring champion. Wilkins also made the All-NBA First Team in 1986, in addition to four All-NBA Second Team and three All-NBA Third Team selections and a pair of slam dunk contest trophies during the 1985 and 1990 All-Star festivities .
The 6-foot-1 forward spent 13 seasons with the Hawks. He also played for the Los Angeles Clippers, Boston Celtics and San Antonio Spurs before retiring from the Orlando Magic in 1999. He also took his act to the Panathinaikos Athens in the Euroleague and Fortitudo Bologna in Italy.
Wilkins, a member of the NBA 75th Anniversary Team whose No. 21 jersey was retired by the Hawks, has served as the franchise’s vice president of basketball since 2004, assisting the NBA in its global youth projects.
The 1994 Fiba World Championship gold medalist as part of Team USA visited Manila for the second time in 14 years and held a youth clinic for the Filipino children of Mandaluyong as part of the NBA Cares project.
Wilkins marveled at how the game has changed over the years, with many players around the world (not just in the US) reaching the NBA and emerging as stars of today’s game.
The Basketball Hall of Famer encourages young ballers to continue exploring ways to improve their game so they can achieve their dreams.
“Just keep loving the game. Continue to work on your game and watch tape and film, not just in the NBA, college basketball and high school basketball, to gain as much knowledge as possible. You give yourself multiple options to play at a different level,” he said.
Wilkins, who had a meet and greet with his fans on Saturday, enjoyed his return to Manila. He hopes that Filipino hoopers will continue to have opportunities and resources that can serve as a springboard for a homegrown talent to eventually reach the NBA.
“Filipinos treat me very well, it’s not my first time here. I always like to come back,” he says. “You can see that many young people here have an opportunity to do something special, but you have to continue to give them the tools and opportunities to get there. That’s why we in the NBA are here.”