MAY 3, 1982
Jack Sikma regretted the words as soon as he spoke them into the phone. "Well, it's not my first choice," said Sikma, then a little-known player at Illinois Wesleyan, when Seattle SuperSonics director of player personnel Lenny Wilkens asked him days before the June 1977 NBA draft how he felt about playing for Seattle. Sikma, a lanky 6'11" center with no hops and a goofy Dutchboy haircut, had hoped to stay in the Midwest—and he was being honest. "How's that for a first impression?" he says now. "I wouldn't recommend it."
Fortunately for Sikma, Wilkens wasn't taken aback, and the Sonics drafted him with the eighth pick. In his first season Sikma won over skeptical Seattle fans by averaging 10.7 points and 8.3 rebounds, making the NBA All-Rookie team and helping the Sonics reach the NBA Finals, in which they lost to the Washington Bullets in seven games. The following season Sikma and Seattle returned to the Finals, defeating Washington in five games for the team's only NBA tide. "It was like a dream," Sikma, 45, says of the championship, "and I really got swept up in it."
Although Sikma became a seven-time All-Star, the Sonics never reached the Finals again in his nine-year stint with them. As Seattle slumped and fell victim to internal dissension in the mid-1980s, he asked for a trade. In '86 Sikma was shipped to the Milwaukee Bucks, for whom he played five seasons before retiring in '91.
Sikma continued to live near Seattle, which had captured his heart. "The basketball part of my career here was fun," he says, "but the experience was extra special because of how close I became to the people." In 1994 he started Sikma Enterprises Inc., a golf course management and development firm. Its first project was Holmes Harbor, a public course on Whidbey Island in Puget Sound that opened in '94. Four years later Sikma, a 10 handicap, and some golfing buddies dreamed of something bigger. "We were sitting around after a round, fantasizing about the things we would want to see in a golf course: a great piece of property, well-designed holes and no houses, so you could have a sense of being out there by yourself," he says. "Then we built it." In May, Sikma and his friends celebrated the opening of their creation, the exclusive Members Club at Aldarra in suburban Fall City, Wash., designed by world-renowned course architect Tom Fazio.
These days when Sikma isn't on a course or in his office managing one, he's at his home in Bellevue with his wife, Shawn, and their three boys, Jacob, 15, Lucas, 12, and Nathan, 8. "I can honestly say life doesn't get much better than this," he says, "and I can say that without regretting a single word."