Box & One With Damien Wilkins

By Wesley Chism Jr.
Updated: November 11, 2007

SEATTLE — Can you imagine what it must be like to be a kid growing up playing basketball and your last name is Erving, Jordan, Ewing? Well, Damien Wilkins of the Seattle Sonics can certainly tell you a thing or two about it.

“Wow, I don’t know where to begin”, Wilkins said.It was really tough when I was younger, like in middle school during those adolescent years. Going to the park for a simple pick up game of ball and not being compared to my father or uncle was unheard of, that’s what people wanted to see because it was in my lineage and for the longest time people wouldn’t allow me to be Damien.”

Oh, for those of you that don’t know, Damien Wilkins is the son of former Knicks Gerald Wilkins and the nephew of former Atlanta Hawks and Hall of Famer Dominique Wilkins affectionately known as “The Human Highlight Film.”

“It was crazy. People would come at me and would play hard like it was game seven of the NBA finals”, Wilkins added. “My father just kept working with me and teaching me how to handle those situations, it took a lot of the pressure off and I was able to develop at my own pace.”

After a successful collegiate career at the University of Georgia, Damien went undrafted and had some doubts if he would ever get the chance to prove that he belonged in the league.

“It truly was hard not hearing my name called on draft day”, said Wilkins.I went home did some soul searching and worked my tail off. I’ve got some great parents and they told me that if I just continue to try and improve different elements of my game then things will have a way of working themselves out.”

This summer, during the off season, Damien began conditioning early and quite honestly barely took any time off. He worked out twice a day and took thousands of jump shots every day. “It’s all about reputation, you’ve got to practice and get confidence in your shot”, said Wilkins

His hard worked has definitely paid off and has landed him in the starting line up for the Sonics where he’s currently averaging 15.3 points, five rebounds and three assists per game.

He’s also found himself in a leadership role and can often be seen speaking to Jeff Green or Kevin Durant on the court. “I just try to reiterate some of the things that Rashard Lewis and Ray Allen told me when I got here”, Wilkins said.

By no means do I have all the answers, but sometimes just a little encouragement goes along ways.”

Damien got where he is today from hard work and dedication and doing the little things to tweak his game. “Be aggressive, control what I can control and let the chips fall where they may,” that’s Wilkins philosophy.

Now entering his fourth season with the Sonics there’s no signs of him slacking off. “My father always says if it isn’t broke don’t fix it so I’m going to keep working hard everyday to gain the trust and respect of teammates and coaches”, he added.

“Seize everyday and every opportunity that is given to me.”