One of the most disappointing moments of my career is when I had to skip out on an Atlanta Sprite Showdown event back in 2011. I wasn’t upset because I missed out on a chance to visit the Clermont Lounge or get some chicken and waffles at Gladys Knight & Ron Winans or Roscoes. I wasn’t upset about missing the dunk contest because I’ve been to enough of them. I was upset because my second favorite player from the 80s, Dominque “The Human Highlight Film” Wilkins, was the guest judge and to this day, I still haven’t met Nique.
I was more upset the day I found out I was going to miss a chance to hang with Nique than the day I found out Nique didn’t make the NBA Top 50 in 1996. I was more upset that day than I was when he injured his Achilles in 1992 and I thought his career was done or when the Hawks traded him to the Clippers in 1994 for Danny Manning, who left Atlanta as soon as he could.
About eight years ago, I made the tribute mix at the top to showcase not just his glory days in Atlanta but his underrated days with the Clippers, Celtics and Spurs. Since then, I’ve been wanting to thank him in person for being one of the best, most exciting and underrated players in NBA history. Youngsters can watch videos, Google and Youtube him all day and check his stats on basketball reference, but believe me when I say the searches and stats don’t do him justice. He had a game you had to see to really believe and appreciate. Thankfully for me, in the 80s and early 90s, TBS (before they started showing all NBA teams), was showing Hawks games for everybody with cable and he was the best thing coming on at 7:05 during those days.
Today, Nique turns a year wiser and I’m going to wish him a happy birthday by mentioning his 53 point birthday performance in 1987 vs the Clippers. He made 19-of-25 shots in 37 minutes against his future team and the game came just weeks after a 57-point explosion vs Michael Jordan and the Bulls and weeks before a 54-point explosion vs Larry Bird (26 points) and the Celtics.
Yeah…he was that good!
One last note about the Atlanta Showdown event that I missed. The winner of that event was a phenomenal young dunker named Jerome “JC” Coleman. JC passed away later that year at the age of 19. R.I.P JC.