Legend Lenny Wilkens to Have Street Named After Him Near Renovated Arena in Seattle
The NBA has no current plans to return to Seattle, though one SuperSonics legend in particular will soon be immortalized in the Emerald City. On Saturday, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan announced that Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer Lenny Wilkens will have a street named after him that runs alongside Seattle Center Arena, formerly known as KeyArena.
According to The Seattle Times’ Geoff Baker, the news of Lenny’s honor came by way of a videotaped address that was shown to attendees at the Lenny Wilkens Foundation gala auction—the final one that the 81-year-old helped to organize, after 40 years at the helm.
A native of Brooklyn, Lenny did plenty on and around the court with the Sonics to earn his upcoming recognition. He was named an All-Star three times during his four years in Seattle, and spent his last three seasons with the team as player-coach. Following two years with the Portland Trail Blazers—the first year as player-coach, the second as just head coach—he returned to Washington state to serve as Seattle’s head coach. During that second stint, Lenny led the Sonics to consecutive NBA Finals against the then-Washington Bullets, including the franchise’s lone championship in 1979.
But the addition of Lenny Wilkens Way around what was previously known as KeyArena is particularly appropriate, given his role in its ongoing renovations. In addition to lobbying for the return of the Sonics—who left in 2008 to become the Oklahoma City Thunder—Lenny served on a city-appointed advisory committee that oversaw bids for what has become a $930 million project to further modernize the iconic, 57-year-old facility. It has also served as the home of the defending WNBA champion Seattle Storm, ahead of the NHL’s expansion into the city in 2021. Prior to this refurbishing, the building underwent $95.5 million in updates during the 1994-95 season, during which the Sonics played their home games at the Tacoma Dome in nearby Tacoma, Washington.
Josh Martin is the Editorial Director of CloseUp360. He previously covered the NBA for Bleacher Report and USA Today Sports Media Group, and has written for Yahoo! Sports and Complex. He is also the co-host of the Hollywood Hoops podcast. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram.