Georgia 2020: Andrew Yang and Dominique Wilkins shoot hoops, talk election

Dominique Wilkins and Andrew Yang on the court Monday.
Dominique Wilkins and Andrew Yang on the court Monday.

Credit: J.D. CAPELOUTO/AJC

Credit: J.D. CAPELOUTO/AJC

Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang met Atlanta Hawks legend Dominique Wilkins on the basketball court Monday night and talked politics ahead of Wednesday’s Democratic primary debate.

During the matchup, the duo dribbled around and played a five-on-five scrimmage at a fitness club near Austell. They also had a conversation about political issues that have come up during Yang’s campaign.

“It’s tremendous to meet Dominique in person," Yang told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution while on the court with Wilkins. "I grew up watching him play. He’s a legend and he’s an even more legendary human being like all the work he’s done in the community. So it’s awesome to be here and he’s even better in person.”

Andrew Yang wore a “MATH” shirt for the matchup.
Andrew Yang wore a “MATH” shirt for the matchup.

Credit: J.D. Capelouto

Credit: J.D. Capelouto

Wilkins, one of Yang’s most vocal and well-known supporters, has previously interacted with the tech entrepreneur on Twitter, inviting him to visit Atlanta and face off against him on the court.

After shooting some hoops, Yang and Wilkins discussed topics including universal basic income, the candidate’s core campaign plan that would give $1,000 per month to every American over the age of 18.

Wilkins said he likes the idea because it could help “empower” people.

“Sometimes, if you give people a little assistance, a lot of times it will motivate them to work harder,” he said. He has spoken out in the past about health care, mental health awareness and supporting people with disabilities. He and Yang bonded because they both have children with special needs.

Yang is in town for the Democratic primary debate, which will be held at Tyler Perry Studios on Wednesday. He is one of 10 candidates who made the cut to appear onstage, in part because of the large following he has built on social media since announcing his candidacy last year.

"If Georgia becomes purple, that would be a game-changer for national politics," he said, echoing the sentiment that Georgia is becoming more of a battleground state heading into 2020. "I believe it will happen and it is happening. I'm excited to do what I can to help make it happen."

He has campaigned on the idea that automation — the possibility of technology taking over human jobs — is one of the biggest threats facing the workplace.

Wilkins played for the Hawks from 1982 to 1994 and was inducted into the hall of fame in 2006. He is considered one of the best dunkers in NBA history and goes by the nickname, “The Human Highlight Film.”

They also chatted about basketball; Yang predicted the Los Angeles Clippers will win the NBA championship, but emphasized that he’s also a Hawks fan.

“You guys are well managed. You've got a young, exciting team,” Yang said.

Stay on top of what’s happening in Georgia government and politics at www.ajc.com/politics.