The sports world is mourning the loss of basketball legend Darryl Dawkins, who died of a heart attack yesterday. Dawkins was the first high school player to go directly to the NBA. He was selected No. 5 in the 1975 NBA draft by the Philadelphia 76ers. Given the moniker “Chocolate Thunder” by music superstar Stevie Wonder, he was known for backboard shattering dunks. It is because of Dawkins that the NBA now uses breakaway rims, because if Dawkins shattered the backboard, then the game would end.
Dawkins played 14 years in the league in Philadelphia, New Jersey, Utah and Detroit. He averaged 12.0 points and 6.1 rebounds in 726 regular-season games. His 57.2 field goal percentage is seventh best in NBA history. Dawkins, who was wildly popular, also played for the Harlem Globetrotters.
Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press reports:
“Darryl touched the hearts and spirits of so many with his big smile and personality, ferocious dunks, but more than anything, his huge, loving heart,” his family said in a statement. “His family, wife Janice, children Dara, Tabitha, Nicholas and Alexis, along with countless family, friends, and fans, all mourn his loss. More than anything Darryl accomplished in his basketball career as the inimitable ‘Chocolate Thunder,’ he was most proud of his role and responsibility as a husband and father.”
Dawkins was 58-years-old.