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Lenny Wilkens On Being A Champion

November 4, 2014

Lenny Wilkens is hailed as one of the top 50 basketball players of all time. He coached the Seattle SuperSonics for eight seasons and helped them win their only NBA championship in 1979. Lenny shares his insight into what it takes to be a champion.

Lenny Wilkens:  I was told as a youngster by my mom, let honesty and integrity define your character. And I’m gonna do that. So if you don’t like honesty you’re not going to want to be around me. Because I’m not going to inflate your ego – I’m going to tell you how things are.

You can look at a player sometimes and you can tell he’s got talent, or she’s got talent, and now, the thing is to get to know them.  What’s their attitude? I was always told that attitude would put you on your way to success, or it will get in the way. And you gotta find out.

If you got a coach, and you respect your coach,  then you gotta listen, you gotta hear. And listening is a key skill, because then you’ll find out, what are the things I need to work on? How do I get better? That type of thing.  I tell young people all the time that it’s good to play sport. It’s good to have dreams, ok, and dream big dreams.

I think that a champion knows how to deal with people, knows how to encourage people, knows how to motivate people, and that’s what you want to be.  You want people to remember who you are, and that you did care about how you played and how you motivated other people.



Made possible in part by

Stacey Jenkins

Stacey Jenkins is the managing producer of Spark Public. She is an Emmy-award winning producer who is passionate about pushing the boundaries of digital media and training the next generation of multimedia journalists. Stacey has been a Digital Content Producer at KCTS 9 for the past four years; her stories have been showcased locally on IN Close as well as nationally on SciTech Now and the PBS NewsHour's Art Beat. Stacey’s experience also includes working as a senior producer for KPTS, as an assistant media instructor and producer for Portland Community College and a TV news reporter for the CBC in Canada.

Fun Fact: Stacey’s guilty pleasures include over-the-top Halloween decor, eating sweetened condensed milk straight from the can and Maroon 5’s “Sugar” video.

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Knowing who you are and helping others with the same truth will be freeing and peaceful.