On Thursday, legendary Philadelphia 76ers center and icon Darryl Dawkins passed away at age 58 from what is said to be a heart attack.
Selected by the Sixers with the No. 5 overall pick in the 1975 NBA Draft, Dawkins was the first player drafted directly out of high school and would go on to play in the NBA for 14 seasons, including stints with the Nets, Jazz and the Pistons.
But Dawkins will always be known as member of the Philadelphia 76ers first and foremost, where he was immensely popular with the fans and was perhaps better known by the nickname he was given by Stevie Wonder, “Chocolate Thunder”.
Dawkins was known as a player with an abumdance of innate talent and potential who went to three NBA Finals with the Sixers only to come away empty handed. He averaged 13.4 points and eight rebounds per game while he was with the Sixers and had a shooting percentage of 57.2 percent during his career, which is good for seventh-best of all-time.
But despite all the records and stats, Darryl Dawkins will probably always be best known for the amazing way he could dunk a basketball, which was practically an art form unto itself.
To mention every amazing dunk would be impossible, but the ones that most fans will never forget are the two that resulted in shattered backboards in 1979. The sight of the glass falling on the court and all over the players resulted in changes in the way backboards were made to prevent it from happening in the future.
The first came in November against the Kansas City Kings in Kemper Arena which Dawkins famously named “The Chocolate-Thunder-Flying, Robinzine-Crying, Teeth-Shaking, Glass-Breaking, Rump-Roasting, Bun-Toasting, Wham-Bam, Glass-Breaker-I-Am-Jam.”
The second came three weeks later on the Sixers home court at the Spectrum, which Dawkins named the “Get-Out-of-the-Waying, Backboard-Swaying, Game-Delaying, If-You-Ain’t-Grooving-You-Best-Get-Moving Dunk.”
These were but a few of the names Dawkins had for his dunks, which included “The Rim Wrecker,” “The Spine-Chiller Supreme,” “The In-Your-Face Disgrace,” “The Cover Your Head,” and “The Yo-Mama.”
Sixers CEO Scott O’Neil issues a statement regarding the passing of Dawkins, which read:
“The Sixers family is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of an absolute legend, Darryl Dawkins. We’ve lost a dear friend and an iconic figure, both on and off the court. We remember fondly not only his thunderous dunks, but more importantly his powerful presence and personality. Simply put, Darryl Dawkins was beloved—by his family, friends, former teammates and his fans all over the globe. His endearing charm, infectious smile and unparalleled sense of humor will be sorely missed. ‘Chocolate Thunder’ will always have a special place in our hearts. His family is in our thoughts and prayers.”
Almost from the moment word of Dawkins passing broke, tributes started pouring in via social media.
— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) August 27, 2015
SAD SAD SAD, thoughts and prayers to the Dawkins Family.. Your smile will be missed my friend..… https://t.co/3vOyCq1aCA
— Reggie Miller (@ReggieMillerTNT) August 27, 2015
Darryl Dawkins was an icon, as a Sixer legend but more as a person. He will be truly missed by all. RIP #ChocolateThunder
— Jahlil Okafor (@JahlilOkafor) August 27, 2015
Dawkins is survived by his wife Janice, three children and a step-daughter.
RIP Chocolate Thunder. Sixers Nation will miss you.