Sports & Swag takes this time for Throwback Thursday to pay tribute to one of the most intriguing figures ever to play in the NBA. Darryl Dawkins. Better known to most as ‘Chocolate Thunder’, Dawkins died suddenly today after suffering a heart attack. He was 58. It’s a sad way to present Throwback Thursday, but rarely did you ever see Darryl Dawkins without a smile on his face. And that’s what this #TBT will focus on.
Dawkins, was best known for his ferocious, glass-shattering dunks. But, there was a lot more to the center who played 14 seasons in the NBA. Most of his time was spent with the New Jersey Nets and Philadelphia 76ers, where he would reach the NBA Finals on three separate occasions. The last time was in 1982 when the Sixers lost to the Lakers in six games. Dawkins, was traded to the Detroit Pistons following that season. The following season, the Sixers won it all getting revenge on the Lakers with Moses Malone playing center. In 1975, Dawkins was selected 5th overall by the Sixers, becoming the first player ever to be selected in the first round after jumping from high school straight to the NBA. Dawkins, averaged 12 points and just over 6 rebounds per game for his career. One of the more interesting facts about Dawkins is how he became known as ‘Chocolate Thunder’. Of all places, Dawkins received that name from none other than Stevie Wonder. The fact that the musical legend named him that raises eyebrows (no pun intended) to say the least. Dawkins, himself is adamant that Stevie Wonder can indeed see. “I know this” proclaimed Dawkins. “A guy who never saw me,”gave me the name ‘Chocolate Thunder?” Don’t think I can agree with Dawkins that Stevie can see. But, it is a good example of the type person he was. He had an incredible sense of humor.
In a lot of ways, Dawkins can easily be called the ‘Shaq’ of the 70’s and 80’s. The similarities go deeper than the obvious like their size and the color of their skin. On the court, Dawkins, of course did all of his damage right around the rim. The difference was Shaq scored a LOT more. Which is one of the mysteries about Dawkins’ career. While, he was quite productive, he never quite lived up to his potential. Dawkins, did play on some stacked teams with legends like Dr. J and Andrew Toney. So, touches were at a premium. Another similarity with Shaq is his personable attitude and his creative, fun-loving ways. Fans of Shaquille O’Neal definitely have a liking for his game on the court. But, it’s his demeanor off the court that’s made Shaq a mega-star. Dawkins, who also spent time with the famed Harlem Globetrotters along with playing overseas and dabbling into coaching, could have really benefited from social media and the overall entertainment on-demand world we live in today. Much in the same way Shaq has made a living off of giving himself nicknames like the ‘Big Aristotle, or the ‘Big Shamrock’, Dawkins often named his dunks. Examples of Dawkins’ named dunks are, the “Look Out Below,” the “Yo-Mama” and the “Rim Wrecker”. Can you imagine Dawkins, in his prime, with a Twitter and Instagram account? Entertainment value through the roof!
It was this creativeness, charm, and a touch of swag (as referenced in the above pic), along with the rim-rattling dunks that made Dawkins one of the most beloved,endearing, and entertaining figures we’ve ever seen in sports. He will be sorely missed….