Wilkens in 1968
October 28, 1937|
Brooklyn, New York
|Listed height||6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)|
|Listed weight||180 lb (82 kg)|
|High school||Boys (Brooklyn, New York)|
|NBA draft||1960 / Round: 1 / Pick: 6th overall|
|Selected by the St. Louis Hawks|
|Number||32, 15, 14, 19, 17|
|1960–1968||St. Louis Hawks|
|1974–1975||Portland Trail Blazers|
|1974–1976||Portland Trail Blazers|
|2004–2005||New York Knicks|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Points||17,772 (16.5 ppg)|
|Rebounds||5,030 (4.7 rpg)|
|Assists||7,211 (6.7 apg)|
|Stats at Basketball-Reference.com|
|Basketball Hall of Fame as player|
|Basketball Hall of Fame as coach|
College Basketball Hall of Fame|
Inducted in 2006
Leonard Randolph "Lenny" Wilkens (born October 28, 1937) is an American retired basketball player and coach in the National Basketball Association (NBA). He has been inducted three times into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, first in 1989 as a player, as a coach in 1998, and in 2010 as part of the 1992 United States Olympic "Dream Team", for which he was an assistant coach. He is also a 2006 inductee into the College Basketball Hall of Fame.
Wilkens was a combined 13-time NBA All-Star as a player (nine times) and as a head coach (four times), was the 1993 NBA Coach of the Year, won the 1979 NBA Championship as the head coach of the Seattle SuperSonics, and an Olympic gold medal as the head coach of the 1996 U.S. men's basketball team.
From the 1994–95 season until the 2009–10 season, Wilkens was the winningest coach in NBA history and retired still holding the record at 1,332 victories. Wilkens is now second on the list behind Don Nelson. He won the Chuck Daly Lifetime Achievement Award for the 2010–11 NBA season.
Wilkens was a two-time All-American (1959 and 1960) at Providence College. He led the team to their first NIT appearance in 1959, and to the NIT finals in 1960. When he graduated, Wilkens was, with 1,193 points, the second-ranked scorer in Friar history (he has since dropped to twentieth as of 2005). In 1996, Wilkens' No. 14 jersey was retired by the college, the first alumnus to receive such an honor. In honor of his collegiate accomplishments, Wilkens was one of the inaugural inductees into the College Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006.
Wilkens was drafted sixth overall by the St. Louis Hawks in the 1960 NBA draft. He began his career with eight seasons with the St. Louis Hawks, who lost the finals to the Boston Celtics in his rookie season. The Hawks made the playoffs consistently with Wilkens but never again reached the finals. Wilkens placed second to Wilt Chamberlain in the 1967–1968 MVP balloting, his last with the Hawks.
Wilkens was traded to the Seattle SuperSonics for Walt Hazzard and spent four seasons there. He averaged 22.4 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 8.2 assists per game in his first season for the SuperSonics, and was an All-Star in three of his seasons for them. He was named head coach in his second season with the team. Although the SuperSonics did not reach the playoffs while Wilkens simultaneously coached and started at point guard, their record improved each season and they won 47 games during the 1971–72 NBA season. Wilkens was dealt to the Cleveland Cavaliers before the start of the next season in a highly unpopular trade, and the SuperSonics fell to 26-56 without his leadership on the court.
Wilkens scored 17,772 points during the regular season, was a nine-time NBA All-Star, and was named the 1971 NBA All-Star Game MVP in 1971. With Seattle, he led the league in assists in the 1969–70 season, and at the time of his retirement was the NBA's second all-time leader in that category, behind only Oscar Robertson.
From 1969 to 1972 with Seattle, and in his one season as a player with Portland, he was a player-coach. He retired from playing in 1975 and was the full-time coach of the Trail Blazers for one more season. After a season off from coaching, he again became coach of the SuperSonics when he replaced Bob Hopkins who was fired 22 games into the 1977–78 season after a dismal 5-17 start. The SuperSonics won 11 of their first 12 games under Wilkens and made the playoffs in back-to-back years, losing in seven games to the Washington Bullets in the 1978 NBA Finals before returning to the 1979 NBA Finals and defeating the Washington Bullets in five games for their first and only NBA title.
He coached in Seattle for eight seasons (1977–1985), winning his (and Seattle's) only NBA championship in 1979. He would go on to coach Cleveland (1986–1993), Atlanta (1993–2000), Toronto (2000–2003) and New York (2004–05).
Awards and honors
- Three-time Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame inductee
- class of 1989 as a player
- class of 1998 as a coach
- class of 2010 as a member of the "Dream Team"
- College Basketball Hall of Fame (class of 2006)
- Providence College Hall of Fame.
- 1979 NBA Champion (as head coach of Seattle)
- Two-time Olympic gold medal winner
- 1992 as an assistant coach with the "Dream Team"
- 1996 as head coach of the U.S. men's team
- 13-time NBA All-Star
- nine times as a player
- four times as a head coach
- 1971 NBA All-Star Game MVP
- 1993 NBA Coach of the Year
- 1994 Amos Alonzo Stagg Coaching Award
- 2011 Chuck Daly Lifetime Achievement Award
- No. 19 retired by Seattle SuperSonics (carried over to the Oklahoma City Thunder)
On November 29, 2006 he was hired as vice chairman of the Seattle SuperSonics' ownership group, and was later named the Sonics' President of Basketball Operations on April 27, 2007. On July 6, 2007 Wilkens resigned from the Sonics organization. Wilkens currently is seen on Northwest FSN Studio as a College Hoops analyst and occasionally appears on College Hoops Northwest at game nights. He is the founder of the Lenny Wilkens Foundation for Children.
- "I learned my basketball on the playgrounds of Brooklyn. Today, being a playground player is an insult. It means all you want to do is go one-on-one, it means your fundamentals stink and you don't understand the game. But the playgrounds I knew were tremendous training grounds."
- "Show people how to have success and then you can push their expectations up."
Head coaching record
|Regular season||G||Games coached||W||Games won||L||Games lost||W–L %||Win-loss %|
|Post season||PG||Playoff games||PW||Playoff wins||PL||Playoff losses||PW–L %||Playoff win-loss %|
|Seattle||1969–70||82||36||46||.439||5th in Western||—||—||—||—||Missed playoffs|
|Seattle||1970–71||82||38||44||.463||4th in Pacific||—||—||—||—||Missed playoffs|
|Seattle||1971–72||82||47||35||.573||3rd in Pacific||—||—||—||—||Missed playoffs|
|Portland||1974–75||82||38||44||.463||3rd in Pacific||—||—||—||—||Missed playoffs|
|Portland||1975–76||82||37||45||.451||5th in Pacific||—||—||—||—||Missed playoffs|
|Seattle||1977–78||60||42||18||.700||3rd in Pacific||22||13||9||.591||Lost in NBA Finals|
|Seattle||1978–79||82||52||30||.634||1st in Pacific||17||12||5||.706||Won NBA Championship|
|Seattle||1979–80||82||56||26||.683||2nd in Pacific||15||7||8||.467||Lost in Conf. Finals|
|Seattle||1980–81||82||34||48||.415||6th in Pacific||—||—||—||—||Missed playoffs|
|Seattle||1981–82||82||52||30||.634||2nd in Pacific||8||3||5||.375||Lost in Conf. Semifinals|
|Seattle||1982–83||82||48||34||.585||3rd in Pacific||2||0||2||.000||Lost in First Round|
|Seattle||1983–84||82||42||40||.512||3rd in Pacific||5||2||3||.400||Lost in First Round|
|Seattle||1984–85||82||31||51||.378||5th in Pacific||—||—||—||—||Missed playoffs|
|Cleveland||1986–87||82||31||51||.378||4th in Central||—||—||—||—||Missed playoffs|
|Cleveland||1987–88||82||42||40||.512||4th in Central||5||2||3||.400||Lost in First Round|
|Cleveland||1988–89||82||57||25||.695||2nd in Central||5||2||3||.400||Lost in First Round|
|Cleveland||1989–90||82||42||40||.512||4th in Central||5||2||3||.400||Lost in First Round|
|Cleveland||1990–91||82||33||49||.402||6th in Central||—||—||—||—||Missed playoffs|
|Cleveland||1991–92||82||57||25||.695||2nd in Central||17||9||8||.529||Lost in Conf. Finals|
|Cleveland||1992–93||82||54||28||.659||2nd in Central||9||3||6||.333||Lost in Conf. Semifinals|
|Atlanta||1993–94||82||57||25||.695||1st in Central||11||5||6||.455||Lost in Conf. Semifinals|
|Atlanta||1994–95||82||42||40||.512||5th in Central||3||0||3||.000||Lost in First Round|
|Atlanta||1995–96||82||46||36||.561||4th in Central||10||4||6||.400||Lost in Conf. Semifinals|
|Atlanta||1996–97||82||56||26||.683||2nd in Central||10||4||6||.400||Lost in Conf. Semifinals|
|Atlanta||1997–98||82||50||32||.610||4th in Central||4||1||3||.250||Lost in First Round|
|Atlanta||1998–99||50||31||19||.620||2nd in Central||9||3||6||.333||Lost in Conf. Semifinals|
|Atlanta||1999–2000||82||28||54||.341||7th in Central||—||—||—||—||Missed playoffs|
|Toronto||2000–01||82||47||35||.573||2nd in Central||12||6||6||.500||Lost in Conf. Semifinals|
|Toronto||2001–02||82||42||40||.512||3rd in Central||5||2||3||.400||Lost in First Round|
|Toronto||2002–03||82||24||58||.293||7th in Central||—||—||—||—||Missed playoffs|
|New York||2003–04||42||23||19||.548||3rd in Atlantic||4||0||4||.000||Lost in First Round|
- List of National Basketball Association career free throw scoring leaders
- List of National Basketball Association career assists leaders
- List of National Basketball Association career minutes played leaders
- List of National Basketball Association players with most assists in a game
- Wilkens presented Chuck Daly Lifetime Achievement Award | NBA.com
- Beck, Howard. "PRO BASKETBALL; Wilkens Denies He Was Asked to Go", The New York Times, September 28, 2005. Accessed November 20, 2007. "A native of Brooklyn's Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood, Wilkens had added motivation to succeed in New York, which made leaving so quickly that much tougher."
- Smith, Gary (December 5, 1994). "He Has Overcome". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved July 31, 2008.
- Gastineau, Mark; Thiel, Art; Rudman, Steve (2009). The Great Book of Seattle Sports Lists. United States: Running Press. pp. 261–262. ISBN 9780762435227.
- Evans, Jayda (December 1, 2006). "Wilkens a Sonic again – as vice chairman". The Seattle Times.
- SONICS: Lenny Wilkens Confirmed as President of Basketball Operations
- "Lenny Wilkens Interview (page: 6 / 7)". Academy of Achievement. Retrieved 2013-10-04.
- Lenny Wilkens (as a player) at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame
- Lenny Wilkens (as a coach) at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame
- Basketball-Reference.com: Lenny Wilkens (as a player)
- Basketball-Reference.com: Lenny Wilkens (as a coach)
- Stories of Atlanta - Odd Man Out