Sports stars are by far some of the most celebrated people in the world today. One star of the past that is still widely celebrated is Lenny Wilkens. He played over 1,300 games in the NBA and still inspires generations to this day.
It’s impossible to delve into the history of NBA players without focusing on Lenny Wilkens.
In case you have no idea who Lenny is and what he managed to achieve in the NBA, we have created an insightful guide with lots of interesting information. Take a look below.
Who is Lenny Wilkens?
Lenny Wilkens was born in Brooklyn, New York in the United States of America in 1937. Not much is known about his early years and school life, but he did go to Brooklyn High in New York.
He then went to Providence College for his after school programs. He did his schooling between the years of the 1950s to around 1960 when he was finally drafted into the NBA.
Wilkens was picked at the 6th position overall on his draft and was selected by the St. Louis Hawks.
Lenny’s Playing Career
Now, when it comes to the playing career of this legendary figure, you have to start from his draft in 1960. His playing career spun around 15 years where he achieved unimaginable success in the sport.
He started with the St. Louis Hawks, before moving to the Seattle Super Sonics in 1968. He joined the Cleveland Cavaliers in 1972 followed by the Portland Trailblazers in 1974.
During his career, he was also a coach for the Seattle Super Sonics and the Portland Trailblazers.
During his bright career in the field of play, Lenny Wilkens took up a larger playmaker role as he was quite a leader.
His official position, however, was the point guard and this is where he won over 1,300 matches. That’s the second-most wins in the NBA to date.
He was calm, collected, and could spot a pass to his teammates. These were some of the attributes that helped him walk straight into the St. Louis Hawks first team as soon as he was drafted.
Over his playing career, Wilkens has managed a total of 17,772 points. He could also play well in a team for points as he garnered a total of 7,211 assists.
With those numbers, he ranks amongst the best in free throws and minutes played.
It’s also worth remembering that Lenny was a nine-time all-star during his 15-year career.
Lenny Wilkens’ coaching career began deep into his playing career when he started off as a players coach. He went further to fully coach a team after his days on the field were done.
During the 1996 Olympics, after careful deliberation, it was decided that Lenny was the one coach the team. His team won an Olympic Gold medal in that year’s Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia.
Positions in the NBA
During his playing and his coaching career, Wilkens held onto some of the most powerful roles in the NBA. He was the Vice President of the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) from 1961 — 1969.
He was also President of the National Basketball Association Coaches Association during his playing years.
NBA Hall of Fame
It’s no easy feat to be inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame. The spot is usually reserved for extraordinary service and performance in the sport.
Lenny Wilkens was named as one of the 50 Greatest players in the history of the NBA in 1996.
He was first inducted to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as a player back in 1989. He was then inducted again into the Hall of Fame for his great exploits as a coach in 1998.
Playing Career Highlights
To his name, there are a number of records that still stand. The 1,337 wins over his career is still second in the NBA. Here are some of the highlights of his illustrious career.
He was an all-star between 1963 — 1965 and 1967 — 1971. In 1973, he managed to be featured nine times in the All-Star rankings.
NBA All-Star Game MVP
One of the most prestigious awards for any NBA star is this one and he managed to clinch it in 1971.
Coaching Career Highlights
NBA All-Star Coach, 4 times 1979, 1980, 1989, and 1994.
NBA coach of the year 1994.
NBA Champion 1979.
What He’s Up to Today
Lenny went on to lead his foundation that raises money for the Odessa Brown Clinic. He finally stepped away from that back in 2019, and he’s currently enjoying his long-awaited retirement after 40 years of work in the NBA.
He’s now spending more time with his family.
Over the years, there have been a number of greats in the NBA who have been celebrated for years. Lenny Wilkens is one of the figures who inspire many.
Though he only managed to win one championship over the course of his career as a coach, he goes down as one of the greatest players of all time.