Darryl Dawkins was larger than life. As a self-described "football player" who just happened to play basketball, the man known as "Chocolate Thunder" was a force to be reckoned with from the moment the Philadelphia 76ers selected him with the fifth overall pick in the 1975 NBA Draft.
"Dawkins was an incredible physical specimen," said Bob Costas in an interview with SLAM Magazine. "He was 6-11 and 275 pounds and no one had seen anything like him to that point. He was a manchild and everyone was actually terrified of him."
Darryl Dawkins was ahead of his time, and not just due to the fact that he was the first high schooler to made the jump directly to the NBA. With his out-sized personality and Vine-worthy dunks, Chocolate Thunder would have been a sure-fire Internet superstar. And to be fair, anyone who names one of his dunks the "Turbo Sexophonic Delight" deserves to be an Internet superstar.
During an interview back in 2011, The former Sixers and New Jersey Nets star joked that his parents had him "about 20 years too soon." Dawkins's eclectic wardrobe drew stares and elicited snickers back in the '70s and '80s, but it safe to assume that he would have fit in just fine next to the fashion stylings of Dwyane Wade and Russell Westbrook.
In a VIP room. Darryl Dawkins is wearing a plaid suit. Chocolate Thunder Forever.— Liberty Ballers (@Liberty_Ballers) June 18, 2015
Hell... Darryl Dawkins may have been too big for OUR time. After all, the name of his most infamous slam ("Chocolate-Thunder-Flying, Glass-Flying, Robinzine-Crying, Babies-Crying, Glass-Still-Flying, Cats-Crying, Rump-Roasting, Bun-Toasting, Thank You-Wham-Bam-I-Am-Jam") doesn't exactly meet the 140-character guideline on Twitter. And despite his gaudy field goal percentage (57.2 percent, seventh all-time), would today's stat-obsessed set truly appreciate a player who averaged 12.0 points and 6.1 rebounds per game for his career?
RIP Chocolate Thunder pic.twitter.com/WFFCPqeELk— Allen Iverson (@alleniverson) August 27, 2015
Darryl Dawkins was the original "Stevie Wonder Truther." The legendary musician bestowed the "Chocolate Thunder" handle upon the legendary dunker despite the fact that Wonder is blind. Isn't only fitting that a man who claimed to hail from the planet Lovetron would receive one of the most creative and apt nicknames in sports history from a man who can't even see?
"I didn't mean to destroy it. It was the power, the Chocolate Thunder. ... I had no control over it." -Darryl Dawkins pic.twitter.com/MBUorttOob— NBA History (@NBAHistory) August 27, 2015
Darryl Dawkins lived life to the fullest. After 14 seasons in the NBA, Dawkins spent five years playing professional basketball in Italy, came back to the States for a run with the Sioux Falls Skyforce in the Continental Basketball Association, and even had a brief stint with the Harlem Globetrotters. For a spell, he was the head coach of the USBL's Pennsylvania ValleyDawgs, and he was the player-coach of the Winnipeg Cyclone in the International Basketball Association. Dawkins took home Coach of the Year honors in both leagues.
From the 2013 Sprite amateur dunk contest, @wheresbenrivera and Darryl Dawkins chit chattin away pic.twitter.com/abOGPO2O3o— Tanner Steidel (@tsteidel) August 27, 2015
Darryl Dawkins was more than just a man who threw down ferocious dunks. He was an ambassador for the game whose enthusiasm and love for the sport of basketball was downright infectious. But more importantly, he was a devoted family man whose Twitter feed is filled with pictures of his wife, their kids and their various successes.
In an interview with ESPN's Page 2 back in 2003, Dawkins said that he'd love nothing more than to spend his last night on Earth with his wife and kids. From all accounts, it sounds like he was blessed with the opportunity to do just that.
Rest in peace, Chocolate Thunder. Hopefully, Planet Lovetron will appreciate you far more than we did.