Dominique Wilkins will make an appearance at the American Diabetes Association EXPO Atlanta, a free event includes health screenings, cooking demonstrations, product and service exhibitors and more. Hours are 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at the Cobb Galleria, 2 Galleria Parkway SE. See this website for full details!
Dominique Wilkins isn’t exactly what you’d call a foodie.
“It’s not just French onion soup anymore; it’s Vidalia onion soup,” the affable Atlanta Hawks player turned front-office exec said, chuckling over the menu at Park 75 the other day. “An onion is an onion is an onion.”
Not really, but who was going to argue with the one person in the dining room at the Four Seasons Atlanta getting ready to have a statue of himself erected in downtown Atlanta?
“It’s just kind of surreal,” he said of the project, still under construction and scheduled to be installed at Philips Arena in March. In September, he was named Special Advisor to Hawks CEO Steve Koonin as a way of helping move past the unpleasantness involving insensitive comments made by controlling owner Bruce Levenson, who has agreed to sell his share of the team.
“It’s unfortunate when people say stupid stuff,” Wilkins said. “You have to rise above it and stay positive.”
That’s the attitude he maintains about his health, too. Diagnosed at age 40 with type 2 diabetes after retiring from the game, Wilkins promotes good diet and exercise habits through his partnership with Novo Nordisk, a global healthcare company that focuses on diabetes care.
“I started having blurred vision, dry mouth, fatigue, frequent urination,” Wilkins said. “I knew something was wrong. I went to the doctor. I had a feeling it might be diabetes.”
Both his father and grandfather died from diabetes-related complications, and the diagnosis was at first terrifying, then motivating.
“The doctor said, ‘I’ve got good news and bad news: The good news is you’re not dying yet. The bad news is you’re diabetic,’” Wilkins recalled. “I was scared to death. Then I got on a mission.”
Known for his dazzling dunks throughout his career, physical activity wasn’t an issue. Changing his diet was.
“I haven’t had orange juice in 15 years,” said Wilkins, 54. “I don’t drink sodas at all. It was a major impact on my life. It made me look at foods differently.”
This year’s Thanksgiving feast will involve an organic 20-pound turkey and his beloved Big Green Egg (he actually has two) and maybe a nibble of pie.
“Pecan pie and apple pie are my favorites,” he said. “You can still have those (as a diabetic), but just small portions.”
Wilkins will make an appearance at Saturday’s American Diabetes Association’s Atlanta EXPO, and has lots of healthy tips and recipes to share through his “Diabetes Dream Team Coaches’ Clipboard,” available for free at victoza.com/ongoingdiabetes/coachebook.
“My main message is, empower yourself. Information will help you,” he said. “(As a player) my whole thing was about winning. I wanted to win at all costs. With diabetes, it’s the same thing. You want to be in a position to say, ‘diabetes is a dreadful disease but I’m managing it in a way that I’m still winning.’”