Dominique Wilkins: EuroLeague Champion and Final Four MVP

Dominique Wilkins: EuroLeague Champion and Final Four MVP

Unsatisfied with his role in the new Boston Celtics team,  in August 1995, Dominique Wilkins signed a two-year contract with the Greek club Panathinaikos. He joined the team, which had players like Stojko Vrankovic, Panagiotis Giannakis, Fragiskos Alvertis, Nikos Oikonomou, Miroslav Pecarski, Greek American John Korfas (born in Akron, Ohio) and others. 35-year-old Wilkins entered the season badly, he was often targeted by coach Bozidar Maljkovic and even got a fine from the club, in the amount of $50,000. Reason: too many trips to the US during the season. Wilkins has always complained that coach Maljkovic treated him “like he was a dog”.

However, he soon managed to adjust, and he showed all the beauty of his talent. On average, he scored in EuroLeague 20.1 points with 7.4 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game, while playing 33.2 minutes. Wilkins helped the Greens from Athens to win the championship title of Europe in 1996. He was playing particularly good in key games, as was the decisive third quarterfinals game against Treviso, where he scored 26 points with 7 rebounds. PAO won by 65:64 (they played away, that is one extra reason why his excellent performance was so significant) and qualified to the EuroLeague Final Four.

During the Final Four, which was held in his hometown, Paris, Wilkins scored 35 points and added 8 rebounds in the semifinals against CSKA Moscow. In the finals against Barcelona, he had a double-double (16 points and 10 rebounds).  His performances earned him the Final Four MVP award. He also won the Greek Cup with Panathinaikos and was named the MVP of the Cup Final. However, he failed to win the national championship, as his team, Panathinaikos, lost the league finals to Olympiacos. He averaged 21.0 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 1.7 assists per game.