He’s called The Human Highlight Film for a reason. He was the face of the Atlanta Hawks during the 1980s. His rivalries with the likes of Michael Jordan and Larry Bird produced NBA classics. Today, we’re breaking down every great moment from Dominique Wilkins’s legendary career. 
Dominique Wilkins was a walking bucket at Washington High School in Washington, North Carolina. As the unsung leader of the team, Wilkins led them to back-to-back Class 3-A State Championships. A McDonald’s All-American in 1979, the big-time recruit committed to the University of Georgia.
Fun fact: Wilkins was born in Paris, France, where his father was stationed while serving in the Air Force.

/>Wilkins played lights out for the University of Georgia. During his three years with the Bulldogs, Wilkins played in 78 games and averaged 21.6 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 1.5 assists per game. He was named the SEC Player of the Year for the 1980-81 season and declared for the NBA draft the following year.
Wilkins was the flashiest player in the 1982 NBA Draft. He had all the skills necessary to succeed as a small forward. The Utah Jazz selected him with the third overall pick in the draft. Soon after, the Jazz traded the 6-foot-8 phenom to the Hawks, where he’d spend most of his NBA career.
Wilkins jumpstarted the Hawks franchise in his first year in the league. The city was desperate for a superstar, and Wilkins delivered. He averaged 17.5 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 1.6 assists a game. Wilkins secured a spot on the NBA All-Rookie First Team. In terms of team success, the Hawks lost to the Boston Celtics in the first round of the playoffs.
During the 1984-85 NBA season, The Human Highlight Film wowed fans with his electric dunks night after night, earning a trip to the 1985 Slam Dunk Contest. Wilkins lived up to his reputation and put on a show for the fans. In a neck-and-neck contest against Michael Jordan, Wilkins came out on top. His first appearance in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest ended with a victory lap.
The 1985-86 NBA season was another great outing for Wilkins. He won the scoring title by averaging 30.3 points per game. He also put up 7.9 rebounds, 2.6 assists, and 1.8 steals per game. It would go down as one of his finest seasons statistically.
the Hawks to a 50-32 record, they beat the Detroit Pistons in the first round and lost to the eventual champion Boston Celtics in the second round.

Wilkins and Michael Jordan headlined the 1988 Slam Dunk Contest. It would go down as one of the best Slam Dunk Contests of all time. Wilkins showed some serious hangtime, but Jordan won, thanks to his iconic free throw line dunk.
Under Wilkins’ leadership, the Hawks were perennial contenders in the Eastern Conference. They won 50 games or more four times and made the playoffs eight times. These teams featured a cast of Spud Webb, Doc Rivers, Kenny Smith, and Moses Malone over the years. 
During his time with the Hawks, Wilkins averaged 25 points per game or more in 10 consecutive seasons. He also earned nine trips to the NBA All-Star Game, won two Slam Dunk Contests, and led the league in scoring in the 1985-86 season.
The Hawks were a good ball club in the ’80s. The Hawks’ greatness was lost in an era defined by Larry Bird and Magic Johnson’s rivalry, the Bad Boy Pistons of Detroit, and the 76ers dynamic duo of Julius Erving and Moses Malone. Even with their impressive success, they couldn’t get past teams like the Celtics and Pistons in the playoffs. And there is no shame in that. The Bad Boy Pistons and Bird’s Celtics are among the greatest. Wilkins is arguably the best player to never make the NBA Finals.
Wilkins put up the numbers you’d expect out of him in the 1989-90 season. He averaged 26.7 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 1.6 steals per game. He soared his way to victory in the 1990 Slam Dunk Contest. His windmill dunks were a thing of beauty. 
Wilkins only played in 42 games during the 1991-92 season because of a ruptured Achilles tendon he suffered midway through the season. In his last full campaign with the Hawks (1992-93), Wilkins averaged 29.9 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 3.2 assists per game. The Hawks went 43-39 and were swept by the Chicago Bulls in the first round.
In February 1994, Wilkins was traded to the Los Angeles Clippers. At the time of the trade, the Hawks had a 36-16 record, and Wilkins was putting up 24.4 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 2.3 assists per game. The Hawks lost to the Indiana Pacers in the second round without their superstar. 
After playing just 25 games with the Clippers, Wilkins signed with the Boston Celtics. In his only season with the team, Wilkins scored 17.8 points per game and led them to a first-round playoff exit against the Orlando Magic. Like most great players in the later stages of their career, Wilkins bounced around the league and even tried his luck overseas.
Wilkins spent the 1995-96 season overseas in Greece, signing with Panathinaikos. In his only season playing in Greece, Wilkins led his team to the EuroLeague Final Four, where they beat Barcelona to win the championship. Wilkins was named EuroLeague Final Four MVP when it was all said and done.
Wilkins spent one year with the San Antonio Spurs, averaging 18.2 points and 6.2 rebounds per game. 
After that, he went overseas again — this time with Fortitudo Bologna of the Lega Basket Serie A, Italy’s professional basketball league. Wilkins made the Italian All-Star Game in his lone season.
Wilkins signed with the Orlando Magic for the 1998-99 season. It would be his last year in the NBA. At 39, Wilkins averaged five points in 27 games.
After a legendary career that spanned 15 years, Wilkins was enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as a member of the 2006 class. It was a well-deserved honor for the man who put Atlanta basketball on the map.
The NBA compiled a group of expert analysts to create the NBA 75th Anniversary Team. The team acted as a way to celebrate the league’s 75th anniversary in 2021 and the great players who’ve come and gone. Wilkins was awarded a spot on the roster. Winning this honor put Wilkins among impressive company and showed he is one of the best players of his era.
Wilkins was nicknamed The Human Highlight Film. It’s easy to find out why after watching his highlight reel, which could go on for hours. He was a big-time playmaker who gave fans their money’s worth. In his prime, The Human Highlight Film was one of the most fun players to watch.
Wilkins is ranked 14th all-time in scoring with 26,668. He played the game with a fire and excitement few have ever possessed. The Human Highlight Reel was a phenomenal finisher at the rim. His acrobatic dunks, hangtime, and versatility as a scorer made him a constant threat to take over a game at any time.
In 1,074 games, Wilkins scored 24.8 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 2.5 assists per game while shooting 46% from the floor. As the franchise’s all-time leader in games (882) and total points scored (23,292), he is the greatest player ever to wear an Atlanta Hawks jersey. 
Wilkins may have never won a ring, but his impact on the court is undeniable.
David J. Hunt is a freelance writer based out of Philadelphia. He ran cross country at Penn State, became a volunteer firefighter during COVID-19, and is a self taught journalist. He's a diehard Philly sports fan. When he isn't watching sports, he enjoys working out, fishing, and traveling. You can find more of his writing at The Chestnut Hill Local and The Temple News. You can follow him on Twitter at @dave_hunt44.
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