"Nique Week" came to an end Friday night as the Atlanta Hawks honored team legend Dominique Wilkins throughout their game with the Cleveland Cavaliers. The franchise unveiled Wilkins' statue in a private event on Thursday and it took its permanent place outside Philips Arena on Friday.
The night began with a 3D video tribute spanning Wilkins career with the Hawks. At halftime he ventured to mid court to address the fans for the first time since the statue unveiling.
Once there, Wilkins began by saying "It's really hard to put into words how I feel right now." He thanked the fans for their endless support and promised that the statue and this week wasn't just about him.
"It's not just about me, " Wilkins said. "It's about the fans that made me."
A few moments later, Wilkins reflected on his week with the media. The week began with a trip to ESPN where he embarked on a media blitz. While there, he said that the perception of the Hawks franchise has changed and that people are taking notice not only of the team's success on the court but off as well.
"We talked about the history of our franchise which is to me what it is about," said Wilkins. "I think this statue represents change and represents embracing that history now. And that we have to build on that history."
When asked what kind of change he would like to see for the franchise, Wilkins responded by praising the job done by CEO Steve Koonin.
"The change has been very positive here. I think...no I know the leadership of Steve Koonin has been a breath of fresh air and has changed the perception of what people thought about our organization. Some things needed to change, and he wasn't afraid to make changes. I think the world of Steve Koonin. I think he is the best. The absolute best. We've developed such a great friendship that we spend a lot of time talking about things we can make better. Embracing the history of this franchise is at the very top of that list."
When given the opportunity, Wilkins reiterated that the statue wasn't just about him. It was about the fans, the franchise and the city.
"I feel like this. It is not anything that someone gave me. This city has let me know time and time again that I earned it. I have never been a guy who cared about getting anything because I have always been a man who liked to stand on his own two feet and earned his own way. I think I did that throughout my career."