By Arielle Robinson
Cobb County Sheriff Craig Owens swore in Atlanta Hawks legend and NBA Hall of Famer Dominique Wilkins as a special deputy sheriff Wednesday evening at the sheriff’s second quarterly briefing inside the Cobb County Public Safety Training Center.
Before he brought Wilkins to the stage, Owens remarked that Wilkins has been “very supportive” of him since he has been sheriff and that the basketball star has “been a great supporter of Cobb County Sheriff’s Office as well.”
Wilkins hugged Cobb County Commissioner Jerica Richardson before Owens swore him in.
Owens read Wilkins an oath as Wilkins repeated after the sheriff.
After the oath, Owens presented Wilkins with his official credentials from the Cobb County Sheriff’s Department.
“I’d like to say thank you to Sheriff Owens,” Wilkins said. “We’ve become really good friends in a short period of time and I’d just like to say thanks to your whole unit, your office, to Cobb County for giving me the opportunity to do some special things here in Cobb County. I’ve been in Atlanta since 1979 — a long time — and this city has always treated me like their native son and now, being a part of Cobb County, the team and family, I’m truly excited and I’m looking forward to doing some special things here in Cobb County.”
Richardson praised the sheriff’s department after Wilkins sat back in the crowd.
“I am always so impressed and so proud of our sheriff’s department and how innovative everything is, how exceptional the talent is — leadership — it’s all of the wonderful qualities that I think embody the essence of what Cobb County is,” Richardson said.
As a special deputy sheriff and ambassador to Cobb’s sheriff’s office, Wilkins will not have the same powers as a regular deputy sheriff, who carries weapons and are able to detain and arrest people.
In an email, Cobb sheriff spokesperson Saba Long wrote the following about the former NBA player’s new role:
“Dominique will be working with our community engagement team, with a particular focus on youth programming and initiatives. To be clear, he does not have arresting powers. Rather, he is a community liaison and partner.”
Wilkins is not the only NBA luminary to be appointed to a position in a Georgia sheriff’s department this year.
In January, Henry County Sheriff Reginald Scandrett named Shaquille O’Neal as director of community relations.
Like in Henry County, the Cobb sheriff’s department wants to improve relations between the sheriff’s office and the community.
In college, Wilkins played until after his junior year for the University of Georgia and subsequently began his NBA career in the 1980s. He played out most of his years as a small forward for the Hawks and was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006. Wilkins is also known for being one of the best dunkers in NBA history.
This is not the first time the former athlete has worked with Georgia elected officials.
In 2010, the Georgia State Legislature named Wilkins as the Diabetes Ambassador for the state after he worked with former US House Speaker Newt Gingrich to increase awareness around diabetes.
Wilkins currently serves as the Hawks’ Vice President of Basketball and Special Advisor to the CEO.
Arielle Robinson is a student at Kennesaw State University. She also freelances for the Atlanta-Journal Constitution and is the former president of KSU’s chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists as well as a former CNN intern. She enjoys music, reading, and live shows.