By David Pendered
The Atlanta Hawks are poised to prevail in their attempt to honor former Hawks star Dominique Wilkins by getting Atlanta to designate in his honor the portion of Centennial Olympic Park Drive in front of Philips Arena.
The Atlanta City Council is slated to approve the designation at its meeting Monday.
The measure is to be the first of at least two the Hawks will take to pay respects to a player once known as the “human highlights film.” These recognitions follow the leading role Wilkins played last week in the team’s grand tour of the state Capitol.
The legislation calls for a portion of Centennial Olympic Park Drive to be designated “Dominique Wilkins Way.” Each existing street sign will be topped with an additional sign that will identify the honorary designation.
The stretch of COP Drive to be designated for Wilkins is between Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and Marietta Street. The Hawks have agreed to pay all costs associated with the project, which will be overseen by the city’s Department of Public Works.
The legislation says the Hawks asked council President Ceasar Mitchell to install the signs. Councilmember Andre Dickens initiated the ordinance and co-sponsors include councilmembers C.T. Martin, Michael Julian Bond, and Ivory Lee Young, Jr.
According to the legislation, Atlanta is honoring Wilkins for the following reasons:
- “WHEREAS, Mr. Wilkins is a National Basketball Association Hall-of-Famer, nine-time NBA All-Star, winner of two NBA slam dunk contests, and is the all-time leading scorer for the Atlanta Hawks; and
“WHEREAS, known as one of the most celebrated players to ever put on a Hawks uniform, Mr. Wilkins earned the nickname “The Human Highlight Film” for his athletic ability and highlight reel dunks; and
- “WHEREAS, Mr. Wilkins is extremely active with local and national charity endeavors having worked with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Special Olympics, Muscular Dystrophy Association and American Lung Association; and
- “WHEREAS, the honorary identification signs are befitting for recognizing the contributions Mr. Wilkins has made to the City of Atlanta….”
The paper does not set a schedule for the signs installation.
Next up is the scheduled unveiling of a statue of Wilkins on March 5, during a special ceremony at Philips Arena. At the time, the team will be in Atlanta for a two-game home stretch on March 3 and March 6.
Details of the statue and the program are hard to find. The Hawks released a statement in September saying the statue would be larger than life and placed outside Philips Arena. The statement said the statue:
- “Will be a symbol of the Hawks’ legend’s success as a player both on and off the court. Details of the statue and the ceremony will be released at a later date.”
Last week, Gov. Nathan Deal and the Georgia Legislature celebrated Wilkins and other past and current members of the Hawks organization.
Laudatory resolutions were approved by the House and Senate. House Speaker David Ralston co-signed the House resolution. Deal hosted the group in his ceremonial office for a round of congratulations, a gift exchange, and photos.
Senate Resolution 63 and House Resolution 49 included a fair amount of praise for Wilkins, including this identical paragraph:
- “WHEREAS, Dominique Wilkins, the all-time leading scorer in Hawks history and a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, has been a positive role model for the sport and a productive member of his community with local and national charity endeavors, including his efforts on diabetes prevention and increased awareness of the disease, testifying before Congress on the need for a national strategy to help reduce diabetes and supporting the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation…
The Senate concluded by honoring the team, Wilkins and the arena where they play:
- NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE SENATE that the members of this body commend the Atlanta Hawks, Dominique Wilkins, and Phillips [sic] Arena for their entertainment, citizenship, and economic impact on the City of Atlanta and the State of Georgia.”
The House concluded by honoring a few additional members of the Hawks family:
- NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES that the members of this body commend the Atlanta Hawks, CEO Steve Koonin, Coach Mike Budenholzer, Hall of Fame Member Dominique Wilkins, and Phillips [sic] Arena for their entertainment, citizenship, and economic impact on the City of Atlanta and the State of Georgia and invite them to be recognized by the House of Representatives at a date and time to be determined by the Speaker of the House of Representatives.”