Wilkens, Lenny

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Wilkens, Lenny

Lenny Wilkens (Leonard Randolph Wilkens), 1937–, American basketball player and coach, b. Brooklyn, N.Y. After playing at Providence College, he joined the St. Louis Hawks of the National Basketball Association (NBA) in 1960, beginning a 15-year playing career with four teams. In 1969 he became the Seattle SuperSonics' player-coach. Subsequently he coached Seattle (1969–72 and 1977–85), the Portland Trail Blazers (1974–76), the Cleveland Cavaliers (1986–93), the Atlanta Hawks (1993–2000), the Toronto Raptors (2000–2003), and the New York Knicks (2004–5). Wilkens became the winningest coach in NBA history, with 1,332 victories and 1,155 losses. His 1978–79 Supersonics won the NBA championship. He also coached the 1996 U.S. Olympic basketball team. Noted for his calm, understated approach to an often frantic game, Wilkens was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame as a player in 1989 and as a coach in 1998.

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