Here’s what happened.
On March 1, 1996 Leonard Randolph “Lenny” Wilkins posted his 1,000th career victory as a National Basketball Association (NBA) head coach. His Atlanta Hawks beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 74-68. Wilkins held the record as the NBA’s most victorious coach for 15 seasons.
Here’s why it matters.
Lenny Wilkins attracted the attention of coaches, scouts, and fans during his career at Providence College, where he earned Most Valuable Player (MVP) honors in the 1960 National Invitational Tournament (NIT). He joined the Hawks in the 1960-61 season while the franchise was still in St. Louis. His All-Star career included tenures with teams in Seattle, Cleveland, and Portland, and MVP honors at the NBA All-Star Game in 1971.
Wilkins’s coaching career began in Seattle as a player-coach. During the 1977-78 season he returned to Seattle to coach from the bench. He led the Supersonics to an NBA championship in 1979.
His coaching tenure in Atlanta included another historic accomplishment: On January 6, 1995 he surpassed the NBA’s regular season win record of 938, which had been held by former Boston Celtics Coach Arnold “Red” Auerbach. Don Nelson, a former Celtics player, now holds the record.
Here’s an interesting fact!
Lenny Wilkins has been inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame three times: as an NBA player, as an NBA coach, and as a coach of the 1992 U.S. Olympic Men’s Basketball Team (Dream Team I). He has also voted one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History.