Former Hawks player and coach Lenny Wilkins served as a great leader for the team and also for his country. In 1961, in his second year as Hawks point guard, Wilkins was called into active duty.
“I could have gone overseas during the Berlin crisis,” Wilkens said in a 1999 interview with the Academy of Achievement, “but they knew that I had played one year of pro ball and they tried to get me to play for the base team. I wouldn’t. I had this phobia that guys who played in the service lost something and never played as well when they came back. They gave me troop duty, which was fine because I enjoyed it. It was a lot of responsibility but I didn’t mind.”