Jack Sikma regretted the words as soon as he spoke them into the
phone. "Well, it's not my first choice," said Sikma, then a
little-known player at Illinois Wesleyan, when Seattle
SuperSonics director of player personnel Lenny Wilkens asked him
days before the June 1977 NBA draft how he felt about playing
for Seattle. Sikma, a lanky 6'11" center with no hops and a
goofy Dutchboy haircut, had hoped to stay in the Midwest--and he
was being honest. "How's that for a first impression?" he says
now. "I wouldn't recommend it."
Fortunately for Sikma, Wilkens wasn't taken aback, and the Sonics
drafted him with the eighth pick. In his first season Sikma won
over skeptical Seattle fans by averaging 10.7 points and 8.3
rebounds, making the NBA All-Rookie team and helping the Sonics
reach the NBA Finals, in which they lost to the Washington
Bullets in seven games. The following season Sikma and Seattle
returned to the Finals, defeating Washington in five games for
the team's only NBA title. "It was like a dream," Sikma, 45, says
of the championship, "and I really got swept up in it."
Although Sikma became a seven-time All-Star, the Sonics never
reached the Finals again in his nine-year stint with them. As
Seattle slumped and fell victim to internal dissension in the
mid-1980s, he asked for a trade. In '86 Sikma was shipped to the
Milwaukee Bucks, for whom he played five seasons before retiring
Sikma continued to live near Seattle, which had captured his
heart. "The basketball part of my career here was fun," he says,
"but the experience was extra special because of how close I
became to the people." In 1994 he started Sikma Enterprises
Inc., a golf course management and development firm. Its first
project was Holmes Harbor, a public course on Whidbey Island in
Puget Sound that opened in '94. Four years later Sikma, a 10
handicap, and some golfing buddies dreamed of something bigger.
"We were sitting around after a round, fantasizing about the
things we would want to see in a golf course: a great piece of
property, well-designed holes and no houses, so you could have a
sense of being out there by yourself," he says. "Then we built
it." In May, Sikma and his friends celebrated the opening of
their creation, the exclusive Members Club at Aldarra in
suburban Fall City, Wash., designed by world-renowned course
architect Tom Fazio.
These days when Sikma isn't on a course or in his office managing
one, he's at his home in Bellevue with his wife, Shawn, and their
three boys, Jacob, 15, Lucas, 12, and Nathan, 8. "I can honestly
say life doesn't get much better than this," he says, "and I can
say that without regretting a single word."
Seattle, "because of how close I became to the people."