GM – FBF – Today’s American Champion is an American former professional basketball player. He was a nine-time NBA All-Star and is widely viewed as one of the best dunkers in NBA history, earning the nickname “the Human Highlight Reel”. In 2006, he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.In addition to his 11 seasons with the Hawks, he had short stints with the Los Angeles Clippers, the Boston Celtics, Panathinaikos Athens (a professional team in Greece’s top-tier level Greek Basket League, with whom he won his first titles, the FIBA European League and the Greek Cup), Fortitudo Bologna (a professional team in Italy’s top-tier level LBA), the San Antonio Spurs, and the Orlando Magic before he retired in 1999.Today’s in our History – January 12, 1960 – Jacques Dominique Wilkins (born January 12, 1960).The most celebrated player to ever put on a Hawks uniform and represented in front of State Farm Arena by an 18,500-pound bronze statue erected in March, 2015, Hall-of-Famer Dominique Wilkins is the Hawks’ Vice President of Basketball and Special Advisor to the CEO. Wilkins works in various management functions within the organization’s basketball and business areas, and as the team’s analyst for the Hawks broadcasts on FOX Sports Southeast.Wilkins is responsible for advising the senior management team on basketball-related issues and working as a strong voice in the community. The 6-8 forward, who concluded his NBA career with 26,668 points, is the 13th all-time leading scorer in league history and his 24.8 career scoring average is tied for 13th on the all-time charts.Wilkins’ 23,292 points with the Hawks are the franchise’s best, and he ranks second in team history in steals (1,245), fourth in rebounds (6,119), seventh in blocked shots (588) and eighth in assists (2,321). One of league’s true marquee players, his outstanding contributions on the court were recognized by the organization in January 2001 when he became the third player in club history to have his uniform number (#21) retired, joining Hawks legends Bob Pettit and Lou Hudson.Familiar to area sports fans from his collegiate days at the University of Georgia, Wilkins entered the 1982 NBA Draft after his junior season with the Bulldogs. He ended his Georgia career as the school’s all-time scoring leader with averages of 21.6 points to go along with his 7.5 rebounds. A three-time All-SEC performer who also took home the Most Valuable Player award from the 1981 Southeastern Conference tournament, he was selected with the third overall pick in the first round by the Utah Jazz.Hawks officials valued his talents enough to send two players (John Drew and Freeman Williams) and cash to the Utah Jazz on September 2, 1982 for his draft rights, and the end result was beneficial for both parties. Wilkins was able to continue his career in front of familiar faces, and Atlanta had its first superstar since Pete Maravich.Instrumental in the team’s success in the mid-to-late ’80s, Wilkins electrified Atlanta sports fans as the club recorded 50-win seasons four straight times from 1985-86 to 1988-89. He averaged 29.1 points over that period, and in the 1988 All-Star Game he ripped the nets for 29 points in 30 minutes of action.Wilkins led the Hawks to the playoffs in eight of his 12 seasons with the Hawks, his finest hour came during the 1988 postseason when Atlanta narrowly missed reaching the Eastern Conference Finals, as the Boston Celtics eked out a two-point victory in Game 7 of the conference semifinals. Wilkins averaged 31.2 points in 12 playoff contests that year, and having participated in 10 years of playoff competition, scored 25.4 points per game.After missing only 18 of a possible 738 regular season games his first nine years, Wilkins suffered a season-ending tear of Achilles tendon midway through the 1991-92 season. Wilkins responded the next season by scoring 29.9 points per game to finish second to Michael Jordan for the league scoring title.He was a member of the NBA All-Rookie Team in 1983 and was named to seven All-NBA teams, nine consecutive all-star squads and was a two-time winner of the NBA Slam Dunk Championship (1985 and 1990).On November 6, 1992 against the New York Knicks, a patented baseline jumper led to Wilkins becoming the 17th person in league history to join the 20,000-point club, and later that season (February 2, 1993 against Seattle), he supplanted Pettit as the franchise’s all-time leading scorer. His stellar career in Atlanta came to an end on February 24, 1994 when he was traded to the Los Angeles Clippers. At the conclusion of the year, Wilkins decided to test the free agent market and signed with the Boston Celtics.Wilkins joined Panathinaikos Athens of the Greek League the following season (1995-96). He was named MVP of the European Final Four after averaging 20.9 points and 7.0 rebounds and leading the team to the European Men’s Championship.Seeking a return to the States, Wilkins signed a free agent contract with San Antonio and provided more than the Spurs possibly imagined, leading the Spurs in scoring with an 18.2 average and grabbing 6.4 rebounds.He returned overseas for the 1997-98 campaign, signing with Italy’s Teamsystem before rejoining the NBA for his final professional season (1998-99), as Wilkins saw action in 27 games for the Orlando Magic.Extremely active with local and national charity endeavors, Wilkins has done work with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Special Olympics, Muscular Dystrophy Association and American Lung Association. In July 2007, Wilkins launched “Nique and Newt’s Full-Court Press on Diabetes” with former Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, Newt Gingrich.In March 2010, Wilkins was honored by the Georgia State Legislature as they presented a State Resolution naming him the Diabetes Ambassador for the state of Georgia. He is also a diabetes ambassador for Novo Nordisk, a world leader in Diabetes care.Wilkins, 57, was born on January 12, 1960 in Paris, France. He joined basketball’s immortals with his entry into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on September 8, 2006, was inducted into the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame on April 3, 2004, the Atlanta Sports Hall of Fame’s inaugural class on June 10, 2005 and the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame on November 18, 2016. Wilkins was honored in October 2011 with his induction into the Boys & Girls Clubs of America Alumni Hall of Fame. Research more about this great American Champion and share it with your babies. 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