make it better

Nov 21

Dudley And Wilkins Team Up For 'Circle On The Court'

By make it better
You're not likely to see too many similarities when looking at Trail Blazers alumnus Chris Dudley and Hall of Famer and current Atlanta Hawks broadcaster Dominique Wilkins. They never played alongside one another and employed styles on the court that couldn't be more divergent.

But in their post-playing careers, Duds and Dominique do have something in common: diabetes. And on November 12 at the Rose Garden, both men, along with Jerome Kersey, members of the Portland Timbers and business partners such as Regence and Novo Nordisk, teamed up to fight that common foe at the "Circle on the Court" event to help raise diabetes awareness.

"We're just highlighting diabetes awareness and healthy living," said Dudley. "The idea was here to have the blue circle symbolizing diabetes on the court. We brought in Dominique Wilkins this year and Jerome Kersey and some other friends are here to have clinics. The Timbers are here and the Blazers to have clinics while also offering free screenings for diabetes. We have over 70 exhibitors on the concourse offering information and services to handle diabetes."

The differences between Dudley and Wilkins as players are somewhat akin to their differences handling diabetes.  Dudley, a Type I diabetic who was diagnosed at age 16, was more of a complementary piece while Wilkins, diagnosed a Type II diabetic shortly after his playing career ended in 1999, was the star of his Atlanta Hawks teams in the 80's and early 90's. Both were playing the same game, but doing so in very different ways. Similarly, both are diabetics, but treat their diseases very differently, with Dudley taking insulin shots while Wilkins uses diet and exercise to manage his symptoms. That shared foe has brought the two, who were already friends, closer together.

"We've been friends for years, going back when I was starting out in Cleveland in the late-80's and he was in Atlanta," said Dudley. "Dominique came down with Type II diabetes at the end of his career. So he's been an advocate for highlighting diabetes and screenings and knowing you have diabetes."

The event featured health screenings, live music, free haircuts and various classes on dealing with diabetes, but the highlight might have been the basketball clinic. Kids ranging in age, many of which were fitted with devices monitoring their insulin levels, went through drills with trainers from the Trail Blazers and Timbers, furthering the message that diabetes need not prevent a person from participating in the highest levels of sport.

"Athletics and heavy exercise can effect your blood sugar level and can cause your blood sugar levels to go up and down and be volatile, so that's something you have to have a heightened awareness of. I had Type I diabetes my whole basketball career -- 16 years in the NBA -- and on the day I had games I would test my blood sugar as many as 14 times a day, having control, zeroed in on what my blood sugar was doing. And that's something we emphasis, that if you have diabetes, don't let it stop you from achieving your dreams, playing sports, whatever that may be. But to do that you have to take care of yourself and really be disciplined about it."

Not only did the diabetics and their families at the sports clinics learn how to participate in athletics while managing their disease, they also heard Wilkins describe how the act of being competitive can help one better manage their own symptoms.

"It's another thing that you compete with," said Wilkins. "Obstacles are put in your life to either go over or around. It will momentarily slow you down, but it shouldn't stop you, and that's what diabetes is. It's just an obstacle in the road that you roll around."

For more information on this and other events highlighting diabetes awareness, visit ChrisDudley.org.

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