Dominique Wilkins: I Know Racism, I Had A Cross Burning In My Yard

Claims Atlanta restaurant denied service because of his race
Atlanta restaurant Le Bilboquet insists that dress code and not race was the reason for Hawks Legend Dominque Wilkins being refused seating.
Atlanta Hawks Legend Dominique Wilkins believes that racism is the reason that he was refused service at Atlanta restaurant Le Bilboquet Saturday afternoon. Photo credit Getty Images

Hawks Legend Dominique Wilkins wants to keep the conversation going after he says that he was denied service at an Atlanta restaurant because of his race.

"You gotta stop spending your hard-earned dollars at establishments that don't accept you", says Wilkins.

Atlanta Hawks Legend Dominique Wilkins believes that racism is the reason he was refused service at an Atlanta restaurant.
Atlanta restaurant Le Bilboquet insists that dress code and not race was the reason for Hawks Legend Dominque Wilkins being refused seating. Photo credit Dominique Wilkins

The 9-time NBA All-Star made waves Saturday when he posted a picture of Le Bilboquet on social media, and then proceeded to explain what had happened to him.

Wilkins tells this reporter that he and a female friend asked to be seated outside at the Buckhead restaurant but, though he says there were plenty of empty tables, were told they couldn't be accommodated. They were then told, Wilkins adds, that his attire was unacceptable.

"I was dressed better than half the guys in there." Wilkins says that he was wearing cargo pants with a stripe down the sides, a  Polo shirt and white sneakers. "I was very presentable."  His companion, according to Wilkins, was wearing "heels and a pants outfit."

The Buckhead eatery issued a statement indicating "to protect our restaurant's culture, we installed a minimum standard in our 'business casual' attire dress code which includes jeans and sneakers but prohibits baseball caps and athletic clothing including sweat pants and tops. Though the definition of 'casual' is ever evolving, we strive to maintain our policy requirements daily but it isn't a perfect system.

As they were leaving the restaurant, Wilkins says he saw other guests, "white folks", wearing "flip flops, shorts, sneakers, and pullover shirts."

Le Bilboquet general manager Mark Hoefer is quoted as saying he wants to make things right and insists that racism was not a factor.

While he believes that an apology was needed, Wilkins isn't accepting it outright because "If they can do that to me, they can do that to anybody." He says it's not about him, but about "all the people they've treated that way."

"I grew up with racism, I've been around it, smelled it. I had a cross burning in my yard. " Wilkins, who was born in Paris, France, and  lived in Washington, North Carolina before playing basketball for the University of Georgia, from 1979-82, says "We were run out of North Carolina because of racism."

"We shouldn't spend our money with people like that, or with establishments like that​ because", Wilkins adds, "when you just slap them on the hand, they might act right for a little while, but they're going to go back to doing the things that they've always done and we can't continue to let people do that."