Date of Birth:28 October 1937
Born At:in Brooklyn, NY USA
NBA Experience :15 seasons
- Averaged 16.5 points, 6.7 assists and 4.7 rebounds per game
- Nine-time NBA All-Star (1963-1970, 1971, 1973)
- MVP, NBA All-Star Game (1971)
- Retired second on all-time assists list (7,211)
- Led NBA in assists in 1969-70 with 683 and in 1971-72 with 766
- Played in 1,150 career games
- Served as a player/coach for three seasons with Seattle (1969-70 through 1971-72) and one with Portland (1974-75)
- NBA 50th Anniversary Team (1996)
- One of only two individuals enshrined in the Hall of Fame as a player and as a coach (the other is John Wooden)
Lenny Wilkens biography
Lenny Wilkens holds the rare distinction of coaching all teams that he performed with as an NBA player for 15 seasons-Seattle, Portland, Cleveland and Atlanta. He began his coaching career in 1969 as player/coach of the Seattle Supersonics (1969-72) and Portland Trail Blazers (1974-75), and in 1979, solely as a coach, led Seattle to its only NBA Championship in five games over the Washington Bullets.
In 25 seasons, Wilkens methodically established himself as one of the NBA’s premier coaches, averaging 45 wins a season and leading his teams to 16 NBA playoff appearances. His 69 playoff victories rank him sixth on the all-time NBA playoff win list-third among active coaches-but it’s his overall coaching record that earned him his second honor from the Basketball Hall of Fame. On Feb. 2, 1994, Wilkens became only the second coach in NBA history to win 900 games when his Atlanta Hawks defeated the Orlando Magic, 118-99. On Dec. 29, 1994, he tied the legendary Red Auerbach for most NBA coaching wins with 938 (127-121 Atlanta victory over San Antonio), and a week later, on Jan. 6, 1995, notched the all-time record with a 112-90 victory over Washington. On March 1, 1996, Wilkens won his 1,000th game, a 74-68 victory over Cleveland. In just four seasons as head coach of the Hawks, Wilkens ranks third in all-time wins with 251. He is first on Seattle’s all-time coaching list with 478 victories, first on Cleveland’s coaching list (316) and fifth on Portland’s list with 75 victories. Wilkens became coach of the Toronto Raptors to begin the 2000 seasons and gave up his job on April 17, 2003 following the worst season of his 30-year NBA career (24-58). At the time of his resignation, Wilkens was the NBA’s career leader in coaching wins (1,292) and losses (1,114).
In 1996, Wilkens led the USA Basketball Dream Team to a gold medal over Yugoslavia, 95-69, in the Summer Games held in Atlanta. Wilkens had served as an assistant coach on the 1992 original USA Basketball Dream Team that captured the gold in Barcelona, Spain. Wilkens holds the distinction of having participated in more games (3,319) as a player and/or head coach than anyone else in league history (factoring in regular season, playoff and All-Star games). His coaching career has mirrored his playing days; both are filled with excellence and accomplishments over an extended period of time. When the NBA celebrated its 50th anniversary season in 1996-97, Wilkens was named to the list of the NBA’s Top Ten Coaches in league history and was among the group selected as the 50 Greatest Players in NBA history by a blue ribbon panel of media, former players and coaches, current and former general managers and team executives. He was the only NBA member named on both lists.
Many basketball fans of the late 1960s and mid-1970s remember Lenny Wilkens as a tenacious, hot-shooting guard who averaged in double figures in 14 of 15 NBA seasons. Fact is, a quiet yet determined Lenny Wilkens didn’t play high school basketball until the final semester of his senior year. Wilkens honed his unselfish style of play while competing in CYO basketball leagues throughout high school. His CYO coach, Father Thomas Mannion, helped Wilkens earn a scholarship to Providence College, where he shined. The six-foot-one, 180-pound Wilkens was considered small by basketball standards, but made most All-America teams as a senior in 1960. He earned MVP honors in both the NIT and the East-West College All-Star Game before being drafted in the first round of the 1960 draft by the St. Louis Hawks.
During his 15-year NBA playing career (eight with St. Louis, four with Seattle, two with Cleveland and one with Portland), Wilkens appeared in nine All-Star Games and was MVP in the 1971 game. Playing in 1,077 regular season games, he averaged 16.5 points and had a 16.1 scoring average in 64 postseason games. When he retired in 1975, Wilkens ranked second on the NBA all-time assist list with 7,211 (6.7 apg). Wilkens had the inane ability to serve as a player and coach simultaneously, logging those duties for three seasons with Seattle and one with Portland before retiring as a player in 1975 to concentrate solely on coaching. That bold move worked to perfection. On Feb. 2, 1994, Wilkens became only the second coach in NBA history to win 900 games when his Atlanta Hawks defeated the Orlando Magic. In Wilkens’ glorious coaching career, he has led the Seattle SuperSonics to the 1979 NBA title and coached Portland, Cleveland and Atlanta, all teams for which he performed as a player. Wilkens coached the Toronto Raptors for nearly three seasons and was named head coach of the New York Knicks on January 14, 2004. He was hired by fellow Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas.