I’m not sure how I missed the news, but in December 2021 the block of Thomas Street between 1st Avenue N and 2nd Avenue N, just south of Climate Pledge Arena, was officially renamed Lenny Wilkens Way, after the Seattle basketball legend.
Leonard Randolph Wilkens (born 1937), who grew up in Brooklyn, New York, played basketball for the Seattle SuperSonics from 1968–1972, also serving as head coach from 1969–1972. He returned to coach the Sonics in 1977 and stayed until 1986, when he went to the Cleveland Cavaliers. He led the Sonics to two consecutive NBA championship games, in 1978 and 1979, the latter of which the Sonics won, giving Seattle its first national title since the Metropolitans won the Stanley Cup in 1917, and its last until 2004, when the Storm won the WNBA Championship. Wilkens finished his career as head coach of the New York Knicks in 2005. Through the Lenny Wilkens Foundation, which recently wound up operations, he also raised millions of dollars for Seattle Children’s Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic.
As far as I know, and please correct me if I’m wrong, this makes Lenny Wilkens only the second Black person to have a street named after him in Seattle, the first being Martin Luther King Jr.
Born and raised in Seattle, Benjamin Donguk Lukoff had his interest in local history kindled at the age of six, when his father bought him settler granddaughter Sophie Frye Bass’s Pig-Tail Days in Old Seattle at the gift shop of the Museum of History and Industry. He studied English, Russian, and linguistics at the University of Washington, and went on to earn his master’s in English linguistics from University College London. His book of rephotography, Seattle Then and Now, was published in 2010. An updated version came out in 2015.