This afternoon, reports say that Philadelphia 76er legend Darryl Dawkins, a.k.a. Chocolate Thunder, has passed away. He was only 58 and there was no cause of death cited. (UPDATE: Dawkins family has said it was because of a heart attack.)
The news shakes NBA fans of many generations because Dawkins was one of the game’s most colorful personalities and most powerful dunkers.
Some of my earliest memories becoming a fan of the game actually involved Dawkins. I was too young to ever see him play, but his shattering backboards were always in the highlight videos on VHS I would run back again and again. I also loved that he nicknamed all his dunks and even hailed from “Planet Lovetron”. And by many accounts too, he was a nice and generous man, especially with the youth in his retirement. R.I.P. Chocolate Thunder.
Watch some of those said dunks and shattered backboards in his Top 20 Dunk countdown below.
Dawkins named the first backboard-breaking dunk “The Chocolate-Thunder-Flying, Robinzine-Crying, Teeth-Shaking, Glass-Breaking, Rump-Roasting, Bun-Toasting, Wham-Bam, Glass-Breaker-I-Am-Jam.”
He named other dunks as well: the Rim Wrecker, the Go-Rilla, the Look Out Below, the In-Your-Face Disgrace, the Cover Your Head, the Yo-Mama, the Spine-Chiller Supreme, and the Greyhound Special (for the rare occasions when he went coast to coast). The 76ers also kept a separate column on the stat sheet for Dawkins’s self-created nicknames: “Sir Slam”, “Dr. Dunkenstein”, and “Chocolate Thunder.”