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Dominique Wilkins: "Dunking was just a tool for intimidation, I was a nightmare for guys in the midrange"


When we hear or read the name Dominique Wilkins, images of thundering and rim-rattling dunks enter our imagination. No one spiked a windmill as hard as the Atlanta Hawks legend. No one abused the rim as ferocious as him in all of NBA history.

However, upon Wilkin's selection into the NBA 75th Team anniversary, the two-time Slam Dunk champion shared unease with his reputation as a dunker. For him, it was just a tool in his deep offensive arsenal. Wilkins averaged 24.8 points per game which ranks 14th all-time. He also won the scoring title in 1986. Yes, the great Michael Jordan usually won the scoring title in the 80s to 90s, but Wilkins usually came in second place. All he is saying is that you do not get buckets by being a one-trick pony. Wilkins was a dynamic scorer and wants to be remembered as such.

"I love the art of dunking because I used it as a tool for intimidation, but the problem is people think that's all I did. I've had games where I had 40 or more points and only had like one or two dunks in the entire game. People don't realize that I was a complete scorer. I could shoot the 3. I could play inside and outside. I was a nightmare for guys in the midrange," Wilkins said, The Athletic.

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People who missed the opportunity of watching Wilkins play know of him only through highlight clips shown at the Dunk Contest every year. Some people might have first heard of Wilkins when Josh Smith pulled out his jersey in the 2005 Slam Dunk Contest, before rocking the crowd with a windmill slam.

His win over Michael Jordan in the 1985 Slam Dunk Contest is considered one of the best of all time. While Wilkins has a fond memory of this, he wants to remind everyone how he dropped a 57-piece on Michael Jordan's head in 1986.

"If you go back, watch how many shots I shot inside the 3-point range in rhythm. I remember a game against Chicago where I had 57 points. … (the) points came from creative ways of scoring — getting to the free-throw line, midrange, finger rolls. I worked on those things every year."

What Wilkins wants is very simple. When we refer to him as the Human Highlight Film, he wants us to envision not just his high-flying dunks. But also his mastery of the midrange, his footwork, his body control, and all the things that a complete scorer does. 


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