Thursday, April 06, 2006
It's about time
Some of you may be thinking that about my blog, but I am writing this about Dominique Wilkins.
If you remember, in one of my earlier blogs, I came out as a Hawks fan. I was a Hawks fan before I was a Braves fan, which seems strange to people nowadays. 'Nique was one of the biggest reasons for that. After Hank Aaron, he was the first real sports superstar to arrive in Atlanta (sorry, Dale Murphy). If you want to see what made him so exciting, watch the video I dug up:
Of course, this video seems to illustrate the biggest stereotype about #21, that all he could do was dunk. Kind of hard to believe he averaged 24 points a game in his career, isn't it? Those 7' NBA centers must have been clueless on how to defend dunks in the 1980's.
Anyway, some of my friends know one of the quickest ways to get me riled up is to start ripping Dominique. I personally feel he is one of the most unnecessarily put upon players in recent NBA history. Roundly criticized for being selfish, never winning an NBA title, or the aforementioned proclivity for the dunk, he was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame on his 2nd try last week. I am very happy he's there, but it's still 1 year too late. He deserved the honor of being a first ballot Hall of Famer.
The biggest problem for Wilkins is that he's too often compared to players like Jordan, Bird, and Magic. "He didn't make his teammates better like those guys," people will say, citing the lack of championship banners in Philips Arena. They seem to forget that each of those 3 players had at least one future Hall of Fame teammate, playing in his prime, during their championship runs - usually two. 'Nique was only briefly graced with an aging Moses Malone, and a cast of role players to try and bring home a title.
Considering that the Hawks often went toe-to-toe with the Celtics, Pistons, and Bulls in the 80's and 90's, I think it's fair to say that Wilkins did make his mediocre teammates better. You take him away, and the Hawks would have been as bad as they are now. He was considered one of the best players of his era, which was unquestionably the NBA's Golden Era.
He had his best chance to reach the NBA Finals in 1994. Unfortunately, as I've referenced before, he was denied that chance by one of the worst trades in NBA history.
I hope with this induction, he'll get a little more credit for what he accomplished. I doubt it though, because it wouldn't fit into the national media's decided bias against the Atlanta's professional teams. If you watch sports as much as I do, you can see it. Any chance to take a shot at our fans, our franchises, or our overzealousness for college football, is gobbled up like the free pressroom buffet at the Georgia Dome. Seriously, sportswriters all seem to be morbidly obese for some reason. It has to be the buffets.
I'm sure most of my female readers (which seems to be most of my readers for some reason) have already navigated away, so I'll leave you with this - A statistical comparison between 'Nique, and 2 players I consider of similar quality, Clyde Drexler and Isiah Thomas:
Not a huge difference, aside from the other two players being blessed with better supporting casts that allowed them both to win 2 NBA titles. Yet, you never hear either of these players criticized or dismissed as widely as Dominique. Why is that? I'll let you figure that out for yourself.
Incidentally, both Drexler and Thomas made the NBA's 50 Greatest Players team, and Dominique did not. He was even passed over in favor of 2nd Fiddles like Kevin McHale, James Worthy, and Scottie Pippen, as well as NBA disappointment, Bill Walton. It's one of the most disgusting exclusions in the history of arbitrary, self-congratulatory sports lists. Yeah, I get mad about those things...but you probably get pissed off about The OC.
For now, I just have to congratulate "The Human Highlight Film" for this achievement. It is well deserved.
Now, if we could only get Murph into Cooperstown, I wouldn't be so bitter anymore.