Jack Sikma

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Jack Sikma
Sikma as an All-American at Illinois Wesleyan
Personal information
Born (1955-11-14) November 14, 1955 (age 67)
Kankakee, Illinois, U.S.
Listed height6 ft 11 in (2.11 m)
Listed weight230 lb (104 kg)
Career information
High schoolSt. Anne (St. Anne, Illinois)
CollegeIllinois Wesleyan (1973–1977)
NBA draft1977: 1st round, 8th overall pick
Selected by the Seattle SuperSonics
Playing career1977–1991
Coaching career2003–2014
Career history
As player:
19771986Seattle SuperSonics
19861991Milwaukee Bucks
As coach:
20032007Seattle SuperSonics (assistant)
20072011Houston Rockets (assistant)
20112014Minnesota Timberwolves (assistant)
Career highlights and awards
Career statistics
Points17,287 (15.6 ppg)
Rebounds10,816 (9.8 rpg)
Assists3,488 (3.2 apg)
Stats Edit this at Wikidata at NBA.com
Stats at Basketball-Reference.com
Basketball Hall of Fame as player

Jack Wayne Sikma (born November 14, 1955) is an American former professional basketball center. He was a seven-time NBA All-Star with the Seattle SuperSonics, who drafted him in the first round with the eighth overall pick of the 1977 NBA draft. In 1979, he won an NBA championship with Seattle. Sikma finished his playing career with the Milwaukee Bucks. He was elected to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2019.

He was known for his trademark reverse pivot and step back behind-the-head jumper, coined as the "Sikma move",[1] along with his distinctive blond hair during his playing days, which he wore in a pageboy early in his career and in a curly style later on. During his thirteen-year career, he reached the playoffs eleven times and anomalously established himself as an accurate-shooting center. His style of play would become significantly influential for centers at both the amateur and professional levels. Sikma scored 17,287 points in his NBA career.

Early life[edit]

Sikma was born in Kankakee, Illinois to Grace and Clarence Sikma and attended St. Anne High School in St. Anne, Illinois.[2] He lived in rural Wichert, Illinois growing up. Sikma was a guard his first three years of high school, before a growth spurt had him at 6'10" going into his senior season.[3] Nicknamed "the Wichert Wonder," Sikma led the St. Anne High School Cardinals to a fourth-place finish in the 1974 Illinois High School Association (IHSA) Class A boys basketball tournament, scoring 100 points in his four tournament games.[4][5]

Collegiate career[edit]

Sikma played collegiately at Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington, Illinois, graduating in 1977 and majoring in accounting.[6] After being heavily recruited by many Division I schools, Sikma was swayed by his close relationship with Illinois Wesleyan coach Dennie Bridges and being able to immediately play as a freshman. At the time, the NAIA allowed this, but the NCAA did not. [6] Sikma also liked that Illinois Wesleyan had several Division I schools on their schedule.[4][7][8]

At Illinois Wesleyan, Sikma was a three-time National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) All-American and averaged 27.0 points and 15.4 rebounds as a senior. Sikma was chosen as the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin (CCIW) Most Outstanding Player for three straight years. He was later inducted into the NAIA Hall of Fame (2012), the Small Schools Basketball Hall of Fame (2017) and was a member of the NAIA 50th & 75th All-Anniversary Teams. He was also a two-time Academic All-American and was selected to the CoSIDA Academic All-American Hall of Fame (1999).[9]

At Wesleyan, Sikma remains the school's all-time leading scorer and rebounder averaging 21.2 points (2,272 career points) and 13.1 rebounds (1,405 career rebounds). In each of his last three seasons, the Titans won College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin Conference Championships and advanced to the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Tournament.[9]

NBA career[edit]

Seattle Supersonics (1977-1986)[edit]

Sikma with the SuperSonics in 1978

Sikma was a first-round pick, drafted with the eighth overall selection in the 1977 NBA draft by the Seattle SuperSonics. Due to the relatively small size of his alma mater, Sikma was considered an unknown quantity compared to the "established, well‐publicized stars" taken before him.[10]

As a rookie in 1977-1978, Sikma averaged 10.7 points and 8.3 rebounds, and on March 24, 1978, scored a rookie season high 28 points, along with recording 10 rebounds and 5 assists, in a 104-102 win over the Indiana Pacers.[11] The Sonics made it to 1978 NBA Finals, losing to the Washington Bullets in seven games. Sikma was named to the NBA All-Rookie Team at the end of the season.

The next season, 1978-1979, Sikma averaged 15.6 points and 12.4 rebounds and became an All-Star.[12] With Sikma averaging a double-double of 14.8 points and 11.7 rebounds in the playoffs, including scoring a game high 33 points along with grabbing 11 rebounds to lead Seattle to a Game 7 Western Conference Finals win over the Phoenix Suns.[13] Sikma, head coach Lenny Wilkens and teammates Dennis Johnson, Gus Williams, Fred Brown, John Johnson and Paul Silas, went on to defeat the Washington Bullets in an NBA Finals rematch. Sikma's final free throws sealed Game 4 for the Sonics who went on to win the series and the 1979 NBA championship.[14][15]

In the 1979-80 season as the reigning NBA champions, the Sonics would win 56 games but would fail to defend their title, falling to the Los Angeles Lakers 4-1 in the Western Conference Finals.

On November 13, 1981, Sikma scored a career-high 39 points in a 119-112 loss to the San Antonio Spurs.

In 1984, Sikma signed a five-year contract with the Supersonics. Sonics General Manager Les Habegger remarked, "After careful consideration, we concluded that we could look far and wide and never obtain another center of his caliber."[16] In that season's all-star game, Sikma recorded his highest all-star game totals of points and rebounds, with 15 and 12 respectively.[17] Sikma continued his All-Star caliber play, but was forced to undergo finger surgery in 1985.[18]

With the Supersonics, Sikma was selected to seven consecutive All-Star Games, from 1979 to 1985. In nine seasons and 715 games with Seattle, Sikma averaged a double-double of 16.8 points, 10.8 rebounds, along with 3.3 assists, 1.1 steals and 1.0 blocks, shooting 47% from the field and 83% from the line.[19]

Sikma #43 vs. Portland, 1978

Milwaukee Bucks (1986-1991)[edit]

After missing the playoffs for two years, Sikma requested a trade from Seattle.[20] In 1986, Sikma and Seattle's 1988 second-round draft pick were traded to the Milwaukee Bucks in exchange for Alton Lister and Milwaukee's first-round draft picks in 1987 and 1989.[21] Later in response, Sports Illustrated would report:

Sikma was once a member of that elite caste of NBA players considered "untouchables," stars so closely identified with the city they play in that trading them would be unthinkable. Four years ago someone asked the Sonics' then-general manager, Zollie Volchok, if he would consider trading Sikma for Moses Malone. "I wouldn't trade Jack Sikma for the resurrection of Marilyn Monroe in my bedroom", was Volchok's reply.[22]

Milwaukee Coach Don Nelson felt Sikma was the missing piece of a team that had frequently dominated the regular season before being exposed at the center position in the playoffs. Milwaukee struggled with injuries leading to the playoffs.[23]

In the initial playoff series, Sikma scored 11 points in the fourth quarter to get past Charles Barkley and the Philadelphia 76ers. In the next series, the Bucks were defeated by the Boston Celtics in a seven-game series, during which Sikma averaged 17.6 points and 9.6 rebounds per game.[24] In the series, Sikma was one of eight players fined for fighting or leaving the bench to join the brawl.[25]

During the following pre-season, Sikma and the Bucks participated in the diplomatically oriented Basketball Open, a round-robin, exhibition tournament, which included a match with the U.S.S.R. national team and the Italian national team (a country where Sikma was particularly popular).[26] On December 11, 1987, Sikma scored what would be his highest point total while on the Bucks, with 35 points alongside 7 rebounds during a 125-117 win over the Portland Trail Blazers.[27]

With the Bucks, Sikma showed his superb shooting skills and made the playoffs every year for the remainder of his career. Despite being the team's center, Sikma was one of the most effective free-throw shooters in the league and he would shoot technical free throws for the team,[28][29] Sikma set a then-record of 51 games without a free throw miss.[30] His late-career three point shooting was cited as a sign of league-wide adoption.[31]

In 1989, he would face his former team in what was then the longest game in the shot clock era at four hours and 17 minutes, scoring 23 points and grabbing 8 rebounds, while winning by a score of 155-154 in the fifth overtime.[32][33]

Into his final season, Sikma remained an effective big man, playing 77 regular season games and three playoff games, including twice grabbing 14 rebounds in a game.[34][35]

In five seasons and 392 games with Milwaukee, Sikma averaged 13.4 points, 7.9 rebounds and 2.9 assists, shooting 45% from the floor and 88% from the line.[19]

Overall career[edit]

Sikma averaged a double-double in points and rebounds in eight seasons, always averaged double points-per-game figures throughout his career, and after his stint with the Sonics, he maintained consistent numbers while playing with the Milwaukee Bucks in his final five seasons.[4] For his career, Sikma averaged 15.6 points (17,287 in total) and 9.8 rebounds (10,816) over 14 seasons and 1107 games.[4]

Sikma was one of the most accurate shooting centers in NBA history. He holds the rare distinction of leading the league in free-throw percentage (92.2%) while playing the center position during the 1987–88 season; he averaged 84.9% in free-throw shooting for his career. Sikma also made over 200 three-pointers during his career with a 32.8% three-point accuracy.[4]

Along with his accurate shooting, Sikma led the league in defensive rebounds in both 1981–82 and 1983–84.

Coaching career[edit]

From 2003 to 2007, Sikma was a Seattle SuperSonics assistant coach.

In June 2007 Sikma was hired by the Houston Rockets as an assistant coach under Coach Rick Adelman. Among his duties was tutoring center Yao Ming in "big man" playing strategies.[36]

On December 6, 2011, he was signed as an assistant coach by the Minnesota Timberwolves, again under Adelman.[37]

Beginning in 2017, Sikma acted as a coaching consultant for the Toronto Raptors, particularly working with center Jonas Valančiūnas.[38]


Sikma was a pioneer as one of the earliest sharp-shooting big men, a role that would become common after the turn of the 21st century.[39] As a center, Sikma's distinct shot and uncharacteristic accuracy allowed him to play a role outside of the paint. His signature Sikma-1/Sikma-2 moves[40][41] were key to future agile centers with agility and shooting touch. Instructional coach Pete Newell wrote on Sikma's signature move in his 2008 book, Playing Big as "baseline moves for loose defenses.[42] Towards the end of his career where his lack of athleticism prevented Sikma from using his eponymous move and no other big men appeared to be able to replicate it, he stated that coaches were inquiring him about the technique, even though he believed it would be defunct upon his retirement.[43]

Sikma's overall strength and height, combined with his shooting ability and rebounding become a more common prototype long after his retirement, with protegees like Yao Ming and Kevin Love becoming quality players in the NBA.[44] On a January 2019 NBA TV segment, former players Chris Webber, Isiah Thomas, and Kevin McHale discussed his unexpected influence on modern-day basketball play with a segment entitled, "Jack Sikma's moves still being used today", discussing common moves taller players have since adopted to utilize their shooting and passing abilities.[45] The "stretch 5" has since become common in the NBA, with the number of three pointers made by centers sharply increasing.[46] His Sikma moves remains widely taught in amateur basketball, including being one of College Basketball Hall of Fame coach Bo Ryan's five required skills for his team's big men,[47] being cited by local, girls' basketball coaches in 2019,[48] and being strongly touted by college players born well after Sikma's retirement.[49]

Personal life[edit]

Sikma lived in Medina, Washington.[50] A long-time Seattle-area resident, Sikma sold his mansion to Bill Gates in 1997 as a temporary residence while Gates's own mansion was being built.[51]

Sikma married Shawn Strickland, a model, in 1984.[52] Their son, Luke, played for the University of Portland Pilots,[53][54] and plays professionally in Greece.[55] A younger son, Nate, played for the University of Hartford Hawks men's basketball team.[56]

American speed skater Bonnie Blair cited Sikma as an early sponsor before she won her Olympic medals.[57]


NBA career statistics[edit]

  GP Games played   GS  Games started  MPG  Minutes per game
 FG%  Field goal percentage  3P%  3-point field goal percentage  FT%  Free throw percentage
 RPG  Rebounds per game  APG  Assists per game  SPG  Steals per game
 BPG  Blocks per game  PPG  Points per game  Bold  Career high
 †  Won an NBA championship  *  Led the league

Regular season[edit]

1977–78 Seattle 82 27.3 .455 .777 8.3 1.6 0.8 0.5 10.7
1978–79 Seattle 82 36.1 .460 .814 12.4 3.2 1.0 0.8 15.6
1979–80 Seattle 82 34.1 .475 .000 .805 11.1 3.4 0.8 0.9 14.3
1980–81 Seattle 82 35.6 .454 .000 .823 10.4 3.0 1.0 1.1 18.7
1981–82 Seattle 82 82 37.2 .479 .154 .855 12.7 3.4 1.2 1.3 19.6
1982–83 Seattle 75 71 34.2 .464 .000 .837 11.4 3.1 1.2 0.9 18.2
1983–84 Seattle 82 82 36.5 .499 .000 .856 11.1 4.0 1.2 1.1 19.1
1984–85 Seattle 68 68 35.3 .489 .200 .852 10.6 4.2 1.2 1.3 18.5
1985–86 Seattle 80 78 34.9 .462 .000 .864 9.4 3.8 1.2 0.9 17.1
1986–87 Milwaukee 82 82 30.9 .463 .000 .847 10.0 2.5 1.1 1.1 12.7
1987–88 Milwaukee 82 82 35.6 .486 .214 .922* 8.6 3.4 1.1 1.0 16.5
1988–89 Milwaukee 80 80 32.3 .431 .380 .905 7.8 3.6 1.1 0.8 13.4
1989–90 Milwaukee 71 70 31.7 .416 .342 .885 6.9 3.2 1.1 0.7 13.9
1990–91 Milwaukee 77 44 25.2 .427 .341 .843 5.7 1.9 0.8 0.8 10.4
Career 1,107 739 33.4 .464 .328 .849 9.8 3.2 1.0 0.9 15.6
All-Star 7 0 21.0 .471 .000 .875 6.0 1.6 1.3 1.0 7


1978 Seattle 22 31.9 .466 .780 8.1 1.2 0.8 0.5 13.7
1979 Seattle 17 38.5 .455 .787 11.7 2.5 0.9 1.4 14.8
1980 Seattle 15 35.6 .399 .000 .852 8.4 3.7 1.1 0.3 11.7
1982 Seattle 8 39.4 .445 .862 12.1 3.0 1.1 1.0 20.5
1983 Seattle 2 37.5 .355 .000 .667 13.0 5.5 1.0 1.0 15.0
1984 Seattle 5 38.6 .500 .000 .857 10.2 1.0 0.6 1.4 22.0
1987 Milwaukee 12 12 35.5 .487 .000 .980 10.8 1.9 1.3 0.8 16.2
1988 Milwaukee 5 5 38.0 .461 .000 .833 12.4 2.6 0.4 0.8 19.0
1989 Milwaukee 9 9 33.4 .394 .286 .821 5.6 3.3 0.9 0.4 11.7
1990 Milwaukee 4 4 29.3 .261 .286 .750 3.5 1.8 0.5 1.0 5.0
1991 Milwaukee 3 0 17.0 .400 .500 .500 4.0 2.0 1.7 0.3 4.7
Career 102 30 34.9 .445 .244 .830 9.3 2.4 1.0 0.8 14.3

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Hall of Fame: Jack Sikma's reverse pivot clears lane to induction". NBA.com.
  2. ^ "Jack Sikma named finalist for Basketball Hall of Fame".
  3. ^ Newman, Bruce. "A BUCK, FOR A CHANGE". Vault.
  4. ^ a b c d e "Jack Sikma". Basketball-Reference.com.
  5. ^ "Basketball's slight of Jack Sikma must end". The Daily Journal.
  6. ^ a b "Jack Sikma '77 Pays Tribute to Dennie Bridges | Illinois Wesleyan".
  7. ^ "Illinois Wesleyan: Jack Sikma '77 Pays Tribute to Dennie Bridges". www.iwu.edu.
  8. ^ "Illinois Wesleyan: Jack Sikma IWU Magazine". www.iwu.edu.
  9. ^ a b c d e f "IWU's Jack Sikma Chosen for Small College Basketball Hall of Fame". Illinois Wesleyan University Athletics.
  10. ^ "Sikora is a Surprise Out of Nowhere". The New York Times. May 26, 1978.
  11. ^ "Jack Sikma Rookie Season Points High 28". Statmuse.
  12. ^ "1977-78 Seattle SuperSonics Roster and Stats". Basketball-Reference.com.
  13. ^ "1979 NBA Western Conference Finals Game 7: Phoenix Suns at Seattle SuperSonics". Basketball Reference.
  14. ^ "Sonics Defeat Bullets". The New York Times. May 30, 1979.
  15. ^ "1978-79 Seattle SuperSonics Roster and Stats". Basketball-Reference.com.
  16. ^ "SPORTS PEOPLE; Sonics Re-sign Sikma". The New York Times. June 15, 1984.
  17. ^ "Jack Sikma All-Star Games". Basketball Reference.
  18. ^ "SPORTS PEOPLE; Sonics Lose Sikma". The New York Times. March 22, 1985.
  19. ^ a b "Jack Sikma Stats".
  20. ^ "Bulls Center Attention on Sonics' Sikma". Chicago Tribune.
  21. ^ "Sikma Traded to Bucks for Lister". Los Angeles Times. July 2, 1986.
  22. ^ "A Buck, for a Change".
  23. ^ Goldaper, Sam (January 29, 1987). "The N.b.a. At Midseason; Some of the Best Stayed on Sidelines". The New York Times.
  24. ^ "1987 NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals - Milwaukee Bucks vs. Boston Celtics".
  25. ^ "SPORTS PEOPLE; N.B.A. Issues Fines". The New York Times. May 23, 1987.
  26. ^ "In Your Face, Comrades!".
  27. ^ "Jack Sikma Highest Single Game Points Total on Bucks". Statmuse.
  28. ^ "Failure Most Foul".
  29. ^ "N.B.A.; Nets Lose to Pacers at Buzzer". The New York Times. April 12, 1988.
  30. ^ "Historical Events in November 1987".
  31. ^ Brown, Clifton (February 5, 1990). "3-Pointer Adds Dimension to N.B.A". The New York Times.
  32. ^ "Bucks Defeat SuperSonics in 5 Overtimes". The New York Times. November 10, 1989.
  33. ^ "That time the Bucks beat the SuperSonics in a marathon". Sports of Yore. November 4, 2019.
  34. ^ "The Milwaukee Sentinel - Google News Archive Search".
  35. ^ "Jack Sikma 1990-91 Game Log".
  36. ^ Feigen, Jonathan; Chronicle, Houston (June 20, 2007). "Adelman adds Sikma, three others to Rockets' staff". Houston Chronicle.
  37. ^ "Wolves Announce Basketball and Coaching Staffs". Minnesota Timberwolves. December 6, 2011.
  38. ^ Smith, Doug (February 7, 2017). "Raptors look to extend Valanciunas's comfort spot - The Star". The Toronto Star.
  39. ^ "Sonics legend Jack Sikma a finalist for the Basketball Hall of Fame 2019 class".
  40. ^ Gandolfi, Giorgio. NBA Coaches Playbook: Techniques, Tactics, and Teaching Points., p. 48. Human Kinetics, Champaign, IL. ISBN 9780736063555.
  41. ^ Sikma Move on YouTube
  42. ^ Newell, Peter. Playing Big, p. 103. Human Kinetics, Champaign, IL. ISBN 0-7360-6809-0.
  43. ^ "NBA NOTEBOOK : Sikma's Trademark Withers in New Role". Los Angeles Times. November 26, 1989.
  44. ^ Mann, Gordon (September 4, 2017). "Successful plan sends Sikma to Hall". D3Hoops.com.
  45. ^ 20190108-players-only-webbs-wheel-jack-sikma
  46. ^ "Five out: NBA entering era of 3-point-shooting centers". April 17, 2017.
  47. ^ "Ryan Addresses the Media on Monday".
  48. ^ "Girls basketball: Prenger powers Minster to 52-30 win over Versailles - Sidney Daily News". February 2019.
  49. ^ "Illinois schooled by old-school Luka Garza and Iowa".
  50. ^ Current and former Seattle Times staffers share their memories | The Seattle Times Retrieved December 12, 2018.
  51. ^ "Local News | Bill Gates Set to Sell Old Home to Family Friend | Seattle Times Newspaper".
  52. ^ "Jack Sikma of the Seattle SuperSonics, one of the most eligible bachelors in Seattle, has decided to take the plunge and marry 23-year-old Mercer Island model Shawn Strikland". upi.com. October 29, 1983. Retrieved February 11, 2023.
  53. ^ Raley, Dan; Reporter, P.-I. (December 12, 2007). "Luke Sikma thriving at Portland". seattlepi.com.
  54. ^ "Sports - Sikma, Schrempf an unbeatable combo in Bellevue - Seattle Times Newspaper". old.seattletimes.com.
  55. ^ [1](in Spanish)
  56. ^ "Catching up with Bellevue's Nate Sikma". The Seattle Times.
  57. ^ Anderson, Dave (February 24, 1988). "Sports of the Times; '88 Winter Olympics; Bonnie Blair's Golden Opportunity". The New York Times.
  58. ^ "SONICS: Sonics Retired Jerseys: Jack Sikma". www.nba.com.
  59. ^ "Ex-NBA star, Timberwolves assistant Jack Sikma calls his hall of fame induction 'the ultimate'". April 6, 2019.

External links[edit]