Darryl Dawkins dead at 58

VIDEO: The Inside the NBA crew remembers Darryl Dawkins’ backboard dunks

HANG TIME BIG CITYDarryl Dawkins, the supersized NBA big man with an even larger personality, died today at the age of 58, according to the New York Daily News.

In 1975, the 6-11 Dawkins was drafted directly out of high school in the Orlando area with the fifth overall pick by the Philadelphia 76ers, making Dawkins the first prep-to-NBA player in history. He was athletic for a man his size, but his youth required a few years of development before he could play regularly. Dawkins broke into Philadelphia’s rotation in the 1977-78 season. As the Sixers, led by Julius “Dr. J” Erving, established themselves as contenders in the NBA’s Eastern Conference, Dawkins became a starter and established post presence.

In 1982, the Sixers traded Dawkins to the New Jersey Nets for a first-round pick, where in 1983-84 he averaged a career-high 16.8 points per game. After missing most of the 1986-87 season due to injuries, Dawkins had stints with the Utah Jazz and Detroit Pistons, but wasn’t able to stay healthy enough to contribute regularly. Dawkins played several seasons in Italy, and then a year with the Harlem Globetrotters before retiring.

Dawkins showed tantalizing flashes of brilliance, but struggled to sustain that type of brilliant play. This was perhaps best exemplified by Dawkins during 1979, when Dawkins broke backboards during slam dunks two different times. (He later claimed to have also broken two backboards in Italy.)

Dawkins seemed to have an innate understanding of the type of self-promotion that many players didn’t embrace until years later. Dawkins went by the nickname “Chocolate Thunder,” which was purportedly selected by Stevie Wonder, and Dawkins claimed to hail from the planet Lovetron. After shattering a backboard above Kansas City Kings forward Bill Robinzine, Dawkins named the dunk, “The Chocolate-Thunder-Flying, Robinzine-Crying, Teeth-Shaking, Glass-Breaking, Rump-Roasting, Bun-Toasting, Wham-Bam, Glass-Breaker-I-Am-Jam.”

In recent years, Dawkins dabbled in broadcasting and coached in several basketball minor leagues, and most recently coached at Lehigh Carbon Community College. He was also a fixture at the NBA’s annual All-Star Weekend events, always wearing vivid suits.

Those suits may have been colorful, but they could never match the personality of the man himself.


  1. Magan Harun says:

    RIP Darryl, now I see where blake gets some of his stuff

  2. Orin Hope says:

    As a kid growing up Chocolate Thunder was the first I ever saw break a backboard during a basketball game. When I seen that on the news I was like Wow. RIP Chocolate Thunder

  3. Bas says:

    Looks like Shawn Kemp’s rolemodel…always dunking hard! RIP

  4. Damonfarries says:

    So sad he was one of the BEST.

  5. belikemike says:

    My heart is broken……shattered….

  6. Ben says:

    Awful news. I remember watching him as a kid. Only 58?! Far too soon RIP.

  7. Stan says:

    He also used to coach for the Winnipeg Thunder waaaaay back. This is proof that the NBA needs to stop fining players for being themselves. Players that express any type of different thought or act anything different from the norm are chastised on social media and players like Rondo are prohibited from even wearing their headbands upside down. Fans love players they can relate to on a personal level and they also make the league more interesting. When everybody is forced to fit a type of mold that no longer exists in the minds of the players, everybody suffers.

  8. harriethehawk says:

    I had a great poster of him in my college dorm back in the early 80’s. Loved this guy. Rest in peace and my sympathy and good thoughts goes to his family.

  9. Dastaan says:

    Heaven drafted a centre, and it was a steal!!!

  10. Dunk says:

    You were an incredible man Daryl and an incredible basketball player. R.I.P to chocolate thunder the most powerful dunker ever.

  11. Adriano says:

    Sad news. I´ll never forget those backboard breaks. The legend lives on.

  12. 1stcook says:

    God bless Thunder I remember so many games with those awesome dunks. No one ever put their hand up to block those throw downs. They knew better! RIP

  13. God must have needed a center R.I.P.

  14. bullsfandan says:

    Good bye Darrly, it was an honor to meet you two different times in 2013. The NBA and world has just lost a good friend. My prayers are with your family. You were a pioneer and a legend. You will be greatly missed. R.I.P.

  15. Chuck says:


    Sent from my iPad


  16. NORINGSNYC says:


  17. rip darryl says:

    i wasnt born when you were playing but i did love your personality when i did see you on nba tv. The world lost a good person today.