The older brother picks on the younger brother, as older
brothers worldwide are officially required to do. "I had no idea
Gerald could play ball," says 39-year-old Dominique Wilkins.
"Not when he was so busy collecting bottles."
"At least I had money in my pocket," says 35-year-old Gerald
Wilkins, smiling mischievously. "You were probably broke."
March 8, 1999
DOMINIQUE: "At least I could play ball."
GERALD: "I was just a late starter. You know, me and 'Nique are
the NBA's alltime brother scoring leaders."
DOMINIQUE: "By a lot."
GERALD: "A whole lot."
Dominique raises his fist, cool-like. Gerald does the same. They
touch briefly, smile. "I wanted 'Nique to get here--real, real
bad," says Gerald, who is in his third season with the Orlando
Magic. "At the start of training camp, I told [coach] Chuck
Daly, "Nique can really help us out. The man can still play.'"
DOMINIQUE: "I guess they listened."
GERALD: "Yeah. Thank god."
A Sunday evening in February, it is, in a small room in the
bowels of Orlando Arena. The brothers are here, talking
brotherhood. There is giddiness--unexpected, unbridled giddiness
from NBA vets who together have scored more than 38,000 points
and logged enough interviews to fill a King James Bible.
Dominique, the legendary 6'8" dunker, spent last season playing
in Italy. He did not like it. Gerald, the headstrong 6'6"
slasher, spent last season on the Magic bench. He did not like
it. For the first time in their lives, the Wilkins brothers are
on the same team. They like it, even if neither is playing much.
Gerald is on the injured list with tendinitis in his left
Achilles. 'Nique's minutes come in dribs and drabs.
"I could've gone to Charlotte," says Dominique, who is in his
15th NBA season. "I would've scored a lot of points there."
DOMINIQUE: "But this opportunity was too good to pass up."
GERALD: "It's perfect."
Again, two fists rise, touch and drop. Before this year the
Wilkins brothers weren't especially close. Occasional calls,
occasional visits. There are eight Wilkins siblings (four men,
four women), the children of a military father and a hard-nosed
mom. Growing up, they moved a lot. In tiny Washington, N.C.,
Dominique became a high school star. His unfathomable 43-inch
vertical leap and his creative game earned him a scholarship to
Georgia, then nine All-Star appearances while with the Atlanta
As a child Gerald didn't play much basketball. Instead he spent a
lot of time wandering around the neighborhood with a bag,
gathering bottles and turning them in for change. When he did go
out for the Washington High team, he couldn't crack the starting
lineup. The summer before his senior year, the family moved to
Atlanta. At Southwest High, Gerald averaged 28 points and 10
rebounds. In 1985, after one season of juco ball and three at
Tennessee-Chattanooga, he was drafted in the second round by the
New York Knicks.
DOMINIQUE: "None of us had any idea Gerald had ability. People
always ask me how often we played as kids. Never."
GERALD: "I remember one game, early in my career with New York,
my mom was watching, and I scored 20-some points. After the game
she says, 'Gerald, I didn't know you could play basketball.'"
DOMINIQUE: "She was serious."
GERALD: "She had no idea."
Dominique needed to come to Orlando, says Gerald. Sure, 'Nique
is the NBA's eighth alltime leading scorer. But over the years
he has developed a reputation as a ball-hogging team disrupter.
That might go away if he were part of a successful team, and
Gerald liked the Magic's chances this season. "Before he
retires," Gerald says, "'Nique should be known as a winner."
Gerald's legacy, says Dominique, will not be as a player but as
a father. Gerald's son, 6'6", 210-pound Damien Wilkins, is a
star at Orlando's Dr. Phillips High. One of the nation's
top-rated forwards, he has a scholarship to North Carolina
State. "I want to play defense like my father," Damien says a
few nights later, "and offense like my uncle. That'd make me a
pretty good player."
Look at Gerald's rookie mug shot, and you see the son. "I think
Damien could be an NBA player in a year or two," Gerald says.
"He has all the skills of 'Nique and I. Total package."
DOMINIQUE: "He's a good kid. He doesn't get in trouble. He cares
about school. That's the most important thing--he's a full
person. Gerald raised him the right way."
DOMINIQUE: "Of course. You're my brother."
They touch fists, cool-like.