Dominique Wilkins has stated that he’s proud to have been embraced and loved by the city of Atlanta throughout his professional career and post-playing life, but Saturday was likely not one of his favorite moments in the city.
The Pro Basketball Hall of Famer tweeted Buckhead restaurant La Bibloquet turned him away due to racism.
“In my many years in the world, I’ve eaten at some of the greatest restaurants in the world,” Wilkins tweeted, “but never have i felt prejudice or been turned away because of the color of my skin, until today in #atlanta in @LeBilboquetAtl #turnedawaybecauseimblack.”
In my many years in the world, I’ve eaten at some of the greatest restaurants in the world, but never have I felt prejudice or been turned away because of the color of my skin, until today in #atlanta In @LeBilboquetAtl #turnedawaybecauseimblack pic.twitter.com/vh7zuyxH0K— Dominique Wilkins (@DWilkins21) May 22, 2021
Wilkins didn’t back down from his claim after the post received thousands of retweets and likes. In response to skeptical fans questioning the validity of the Hall of Famers’ claim, he explained restaurant employees first told him there were no tables available.
When I first got there, they said no tables, then they said I was not dressed fashionably enough. I guess if there were no tables, then why the follow up comment?— Dominique Wilkins (@DWilkins21) May 22, 2021
He then said the employees told him his attire wasn’t appropriate for the venue.
That’s exactly what happened. I would have been fine if they said just no tables. But they looked me up and down before that and then said that and to add insult, talked about how my clothes were not appropriate when I was wearing designer casual pants and a shirt— Dominique Wilkins (@DWilkins21) May 23, 2021
“We, at Le Bilboquet, do our best to accommodate all of our guests,” a restaurant spokesperson who asked not to be publicly identified said in a statement sent to Peachtree Hoops. “However, we have received consistent complaints from our patrons regarding other guest’s wardrobe choices. As a result, to protect our restaurant’s culture, we installed a minimum standard in our ‘business casual’ attire dress code, which includes jeans and sneakers but prohibits baseball caps and athletic clothing including sweatpants and tops.”
The spokesperson also acknowledged the complexity of setting a “business casual” dress code.
“Though the definition of ‘casual’ is ever evolving, we strive to maintain our policy requirements daily, but it isn’t a perfect system,” the statement read.
Wilkins, 61, doesn’t have an extensive history of publicly speaking out against racism, outside of April 2014. The longtime Hawks’ on-air color analyst spoke up seven years ago after the Donald Sterling-Los Angeles Clippers’ situation. Audio of an alleged conversation between Sterling and his former girlfriend V. Stiviano leaked with Sterling telling Stiviano he didn’t want her associating with Black people or bringing them to Clippers games. Four days after the audio leaked, NBA commissioner Adam Silver hit Sterling with the maximum fine of $2.5 million and a life ban from the league.
Wilkins penned a column for CNN to publicly back Silver’s decision.
“I am not a politician. I am not a legislator,” Wilkins’ column read. “I’m not an activist. I do have fame. I do have accolades. I played professional basketball. But all of this aside, I am a man, a Black man.”
Wilkins later wrote how being catapulted in the public eye as a superstar athlete has forced him to watch his words and form them in politically-correct stanzas.
“Again, I’m no activist,” the column read. “I have turned down more press requests and interviews surrounding the abhorrent comments of Sterling in the past two days than I care to number.”
He also wrote how he never experienced racism within the Hawks’ organization, but he has experienced it as a Black man living in the South. The column did not give any specific examples.
Wilkins is set to remain a part of the Bally Sports Southeast broadcast team of the Atlanta Hawks’ first round NBA Playoff series against the New York Knicks, which tips off at 7 pm ET Sunday evening.