Honored As One Of Nba's Top Players And Coaches
When the NBA celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1996, Wilkens was the only man to be named both one of the fifty greatest players and one of the top ten coaches in league history. He's also one of only two men (John Wooden is the other) to be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as both player and coach. Wilkens was inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame as a player on May 9, 1989, and as a coach on October 2, 1998.
In 1996, Wilkens coached the USA Basketball Dream Team to a gold medal victory of 95-69 over Yugoslavia in the Olympic Summer Games held in Atlanta. Four years earlier, Wilkens had served as an assistant coach on the 1992 original USA Basketball Dream Team that captured gold in Barcelona, Spain. Shortly after his first Olympics coaching experience, he had a brush with life-threatening illness. During a pickup basketball game in Barcelona, Wilkens tore an Achilles tendon. As he recovered from the injury, blood clots from his leg traveled into his lungs, forcing hospitalization and jeopardizing his life. He later told the Akron Beacon Journal: "I think that was the first time I realized my own mortality. I was always healthy. Now I see how fragile it is. I felt vulnerable."
- Lenny Wilkens - Chronology
- Lenny Wilkens - Signs On As Head Coach Of Cavaliers
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