Dominique Wilkins documentary to air Friday: “Dominique Belongs to Us” will air at 8 p.m. on ESPN
Published 8:31 pm Thursday, April 16, 2015
ATLANTA — “It was shocking that they quickly turned from loving you to trying to destroy you. I don’t think I ever forgot it,” Dominique Wilkins said in a clip from the ESPN Films documentary “Dominique Belongs to Us,” set to debut at 8 p.m. on ESPN. The quote, spoken prior to his homecoming last December, is heavy in nature, offering little context, but serves as testimony to the trials and tribulations that came with being an elite talent from a small town.
“I can tell with him he’s very sensitive about being disrespected, very sensitive about loyalty,” said director Kenan K. Holley. “I think a lot of that stems from the way he was treated back in 1978 in Little Washington. It hurt him … As a person, as a human being, he’s someone who is sensitive. I think when you hear that quote, that’s where it stems from.”
The film, an SEC Storied production from Rob Harvell, will profile Wilkins’ journey to stardom, beginning in the packed gymnasium of the old Washington High School and finishing with his ascent to the NBA, while also discussing his decision to attend the University of Georgia following his senior season in 1979, a decision that led to widespread discontent within the local community.
“I would tell (the people of Washington) to be patient,” Holley said. “Don’t take it personally through the first 40 minutes. Sometimes it’s hard to reflect back on ourselves. The kids of Little Washington, they weren’t apart of what went on with Dominique, but some of the (older) people there were. I think it’s hard for us to deal with the less-than beautiful part of ourselves.”
The documentary features achieved footage of the late-1970s Pam Pack basketball teams, dunking on opponents and bringing fans to their feet, and a variety of old Washington Daily News articles.
The theme, Holley said, will be forgiveness and redemption, centering around Wilkins’ estrangement from Washington, his decision to attend Georgia while being scouted by other in-state, renowned basketball programs and his search for a place to call home.
The film is narrated by Andre Lauren Benjamin, an Atlanta native, and includes interviews from Clippers coach and former Marquette All-American Doc Rivers, Hall of Famer Karl Malone and Wilkins’ family members, among others.
On Wednesday, Wilkins spoke to reporters at the film’s premier in Atlanta’s Ventanas.
“It turned out pretty good,” said Commissioner Ed Booth, who attended the viewing. “It started talking about why he left Washington and some of the stuff he said I wasn’t aware of until I saw the movie. Overall, it was good and discussed how he went back to Washington and will be back from time to time.”
“As a matter of fact, people who were (at the premier) wanted to come to Little Washington after the film. The people who were there were very excited about Washington, I got that impression.”
Wilkins returned to Washington on Dec. 16 after a community of support in Georgia convinced him to make amends. Waiting back home were hundreds of local residents, more than willing to welcome back its basketball hero.
Wilkins later spoke at halftime of the Washington vs. Greene Central basketball game, as the school retired his signature No. 21 jersey.
“To get to the point of being good, some amends have to be made. Apology, recognition and honoring have to happen for Dominique to say, I’m good with this town,” Holley said.
“If you want to go to one town in America where it would be the most emotional to view, it would be in Little Washington.”
“Dominique Belongs to Us” will also air on the SEC Network on April 27 at 9 p.m.