In July 1962, two years into his stint with the Hawks, Wilkens married Marilyn J. Reed. The couple has three children: Leesha, Randy, and Jamee. When the Hawks moved to Atlanta in 1968, Wilkens was unable to negotiate an acceptable contract with the new owners, so he was traded to the Seattle Super Sonics. It turned out to be the start of a whole new career for Wilkens, who was asked to be player-coach of the struggling team at the beginning of the 1969-1970 season. Although he had never coach basketball before, Wilkens drew on the same fundamentals that had served him so well as a player. These fundamentals emphasized defense, passing, and the proper execution of all assignments. In 1971-1972, Wilkens coached the SuperSonics to a record of 47-35, their first winning season ever. During the 1972-1973 season Wilkens left coaching behind to concentrate on playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers, but he again pulled double duty as player and coach for the Portland Trail Blazers, beginning in 1974.
Released by Portland in 1977, Wilkens briefly considered leaving basketball altogether but instead returned to the Super Sonics as head coach midway through the 1977-1978 season. When Wilkens returned to Seattle, he took over a team with a dismal record of 5-17, but by season's end he had coached the team to a 42-18 record and into the NBA finals. The following season, the SuperSonics took the championship, defeating the Washington Bullets in five games. In his eight seasons with the SuperSonics, from 1977 until 1985, Wilkens compiled a record of 357-277 for a winning percentage of 56.3 percent. At the end of the 1984-1985 season, Wilkens stepped down as coach of the SuperSonics and became the team's general manager for a year.
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