Dominique Wilkins, The Human-Highlight Film, still believes Boston has a chance against the Hawks.
When posing the question of the greatest Hawk of all-time, a couple of players have a reasonable argument.
Considering that the franchise originated in St. Louis, Bob Pettit and Lenny Wilkens enter the discussion as each are Hall of Famers and members of the NBA's 50 greatest players of all-time.
But when it comes to the Atlanta Hawks, there's no argument that title belongs to Dominique Wilkins.
Wilkins, who serves as the Hawks Vice President and television color commentator, was interviewed by the Boston Herald's Steve Bulpett, to discussed why the Celtics shouldn't be left for dead despite being in a 0-2 hole, his thoughts on Brad Stevens, and his brief stint in a Celtics uniform.
On the Celtics chances:
“I mean, it’s always tough playing in Boston,” said Wilkins, the NBA Hall of Famer and now Hawks vice president. “That’s just history, man. It’s always a battle when you go up there for the playoffs. And that’s what makes it fun. That’s what I love about it. It should be a battle. Nothing is supposed to be easy.
“You can never be overconfident, because there have been teams that come back from two down.
“That team had the record they did for a reason,” he said of the Celts, who finished even with the Hawks (and Miami and Charlotte) at 48-34. “It’s no accident. So you’re still going to have to battle, because if you don’t, Boston’s right back in it. And I expect them to come out hard next game. Even without (Avery) Bradley, they’re still going to play hard.”
On Brad Stevens:
“I like this team,” he said. “I like their coach. In a way, he’s kind of a really laid-back guy. He doesn’t get upset with them too often, but he’s found a way to get the guys to buy into his system, and it’s working.”
On the reasons why he joined the Celtics and his feelings about the city:
Actually two reasons. It was Red Auerbach and Larry Bird. Red Auerbach said, ‘You can go to any team you want, but we want you in Boston.’ Like I’m going to turn Red Auerbach down? And Larry endorsed it.
I mean, how do you turn that down? I mean, really? You’ve got basketball mecca in Boston, and then you’ve got one of the greatest players in the history of their franchise in Bird and one of the greatest coaches to ever coach in Red Auerbach asking you to come there. That was a pretty easy decision.
It was a tough year, but I loved playing there, and the fans treated me unbelievable,” ’Nique said. “And I loved the city. I only played for the Celtics that one year, but I lived there for five years. I loved the change of the seasons.”
Wilkins lost to the Celtics in three postseason meetings (1983, 1986, 1988). In those series, the Hawks were just 1-8 in the Boston Garden, including all three series clinchers. Wilkins was also a member of the 1987 Hawks team which had a chance to pass the Celtics for the number one seed in the East that season, but lost a regular season finale to the Celtics by double digits on the old parquet floor.
If anyone knows how hard it is to beat Boston in Boston when it matters, it is Wilkins. Certainly is amazing that after all the years and generations of Celtics players have come and gone, the respect for Boston at home still is strong.