Lenny Wilkens Biography

Essay by one4kelA+, March 2004

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Lenny Wilkens Bio

Leonard R. Wilkens, Jr. was born in 1937. He grew up with three other siblings; his mother raised all of them due to the death of his father when he was only five. As a native of Brooklyn, N.Y. Wilkens graduated from providence with a degree in economics, and in 1988 received an honorary doctorate in humanities from his alma mater. In 1995, he was awarded a similar degree from Seattle University.

Wilkens Professional basketball career started in the 1960 NBA Draft a first round draft choice by the St. Louis Hawks. Wilkens averaged 16.5 points, 6.7 assists, and 4.7 rebounds in 1,077 games during his 15-year playing career. He ranks among the league's all-time leaders in assists, games played and free throws made. He was named Most Valuable Player of the 1971 All-Star Game in San Diego, one of his nine All Star appearances.

Wilkens' coaching career started in Seattle, where he was player/coach of the Sonics from 1969-70 through 1971-72.

He did the same double duty with Portland during the 1974-75 season before hanging up the uniform and serving only as the Blazers' coach for the 1975-76 campaign. Wilkens replaced Bob Hopkins as head coach of the Sonics early in the 1977-78 seasons and presided over one of the most dramatic turnarounds in NBA history. The Sonics, 5-17 under Hopkins, went 42-18 under Wilkens and competed in the NBA Finals that year. Wilkens Served as both coach and director of player personnel for the Sonics through the 1984-85 season, and the Sonics advanced to the playoffs six times under Wilkens direction. Wilkens coached the Seattle Super Sonics to the NBA championship in 1979, and was the NBA Coach of the Year with the Atlanta Hawks in 1994. He also was the coach of the United...