The part about winning was all Wilkes needed to hear, and he promptly signed a long-term contract at a reported $600,000 a year. That pact was negotiated for Wilkes by an old teammate from the Ventura playgrounds, his sister Naomi, who is now a lawyer. "She really played basketball first," Wilkes recalls. "She was the neighborhood tomboy, always playing with the guys. Because she helped me learn the game, it only seemed right that she remain a part of my career, so we decided to give it a try."
Westhead is glad they did because Wilkes' presence gives the Lakers a force, albeit a quiet one, to accompany Abdul-Jabbar on offense. "Our thinking is to get Jamaal out of the game early for a little rest, then bring him back in when Kareem sits down," Westhead says. "When Kareem is out, the offense really revolves around Jamaal, but the way he goes about his business no one really notices. His in-conspicuousness is part of his greatness. I just hope no one ever catches on."