Ross Kelly, CBS Local Sports
The world of basketball lost one of its most colorful characters with the death of Darryl Dawkins on Thursday. Dawkins, 58, had a 14-year NBA career with four different teams. Nicknamed “Chocolate Thunder” Dawkins may have been known as much for his flamboyant personality as he was for his hard-nosed play. Whether it was for his flashy suits, his thunderous dunks, or his iconic nicknames; Dawkins will never be forgotten. Here are five other things to know about “Chocolate Thunder”, Darryl Dawkins:
1. Long before KG, Kobe, and LeBron; Dawkins was the first player ever to be taken in the NBA Draft straight out of high school. The 18-year-old went #5 to the 76ers in the 1975 draft after one of the most storied high school careers ever in Orlando. Dawkins would spend seven of his 14 seasons in the NBA with the 76ers. After the ’75 draft it would be another 20 years before a high school player was taken: Kevin Garnett in 1995.
2. Dawkins is long credited with being one of the first NBA players to break a backboard with a dunk. In November 1979 Dawkins broke backboards in two separate games which resulted in the NBA implementing a rule that breaking a backboard was an offense and would result in a fine and suspension. Below is video of the two incidents:
3. Dawkins was known for ‘naming’ his dunks which further showed off the uniqueness of his personality. Some of his more infamous dunk names include: the Go-Rilla, the In-You-Face Disgrace, the Cover Your Head, and the Yo-Mama. His first backboard-breaking dunk was called: “The Chocolate-Thunder-Flying, Robinzine-Crying, Teeth-Shaking, Glass-Breaking, Rump-Roasting, Bun-Toasting, Wham-Bam, Glass-Breaker-I-Am-Jam.”
If hip hop was as popular back then as it was now, we could surely expect a Chocolate Thunder mixtape shortly after one of his dunks.
4. Though he played in 109 playoff games, Dawkins never won an NBA championship in part due to poor timing. His teams played and lost in four NBA Finals and two other Conference Finals. He was traded from the 76ers in 1982 and Philly would go on to win the NBA championship just 9 months later. Then in his final season, Dawkins was waived by the Pistons in February 1989 and Detroit would go on to win the title just four months later.
5. Even after his NBA career ended, Dawkins would go on to play in various other professional leagues. He played for three different Italian leagues, the CBA, the IBA, and even had a stint with the Harlem Globetrotters. He wrapped up his pro career in 2000 at the age of 43. His entire professional career spanned 25 seasons (1975-2000).