Dominique Wilkins was at Wheeler High School in Marietta on Sunday to talk to young basketball players about his battle with diabetes.
He was at the school on behalf of Norvo Nordisk which sponsored the second annual Underclassmen All-American Game. Wilkins, 57, spoke to the participants about healthy habits and judged the dunk contest.
But before the balls started bouncing, the Atlanta Hawks’ legend and current Vice President of Basketball for the team took some time to talk hoops with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Do you enjoy coming to events like this and seeing young kids throw it down?
“Oh yea. But more importantly, I like to see kids’ fundamental abilities. What can they do fundamentally? Everyone can dunk, dribble, do tricks and shoot the three, but what else can you do to define your entire game? You got to learn to play on the ground as well as in the air. Become more fundamentally sound. Work on the things you’re weakest at and that’s the thing that’s going to make you a better player.”
Can you still dunk?
“On Fridays, because I need the week to warm up. It gets difficult. I need a dribble, just one.”
The Hawks have hit some bumps lately, losing their last seven games. What are they missing right now?
“Consistency. That’s what it is. When we play the type of defense that we’re capable of playing, you can make it hard for anyone to play us. Just consistency, and then you have a couple of injuries. With Paul Millsap being out, that’s a huge miss to have him out of the lineup because that’s a component you’re taking away from the team in rebounding, defensively, passing the ball and just someone who knows how to play. So, he’s a big miss on the floor. But as a whole, we just need more consistency.”
The MVP race is tight this year and the season is winding down now. Is there someone who you think is pulling away with it now?
“At the beginning, I said (Russell) Westbrook, but you look at what James Harden is doing in Houston. No one expected Houston to be close to 50 wins. No one thought that. To see what he has pretty much done is amazing. So, yeah, I think he might be in the lead, in my opinion.”
His assist numbers are way up too.
“Everything is up with his game. He’s close to triple-double numbers, but it’s the way that he is helping his team. His team is winning, and so that’s going to play into it.”
Who do you like in the Final Four?
“I think this year is the first time in a while where it’s a toss-up. There’s no clear team that has a bigger edge than the other. It depends on who gets lucky.”
You went to Georgia, but with your stepson at Virginia, are you paying more attention to ACC hoops than the SEC?
“Oh yeah, definitely. I watch him a lot. He’s a kid that is steady learning. He’s been sick a little bit, but he’s gotten better and is getting ready for his senior year.”
If you were healthier when you were younger, do you think you could have prevented diabetes?
“For me, it was a hereditary trait, so somebody in my family was bound to get it and unfortunately out of eight brothers and sisters, I was the only one to get it. I got a brother that’s 280 pounds, and he’s healthy as I don’t know what. I’m like, ‘How the hell does that happen?’ I look at it as a blessing because it makes me look at my health a lot differently than I used to. And Novo Nordisk has given me a platform to talk about diabetes on a national scale.”