Former 76ers, Nets star Darryl Dawkins dead at 58

By on August 28, 2015

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Updated: Thursday, August 27, 2015, 5:58 PM

7157AP

Legendary NBA big man Darryl Dawkins has died at the age of 58.

Darryl Dawkins receives a tribute during the NBA Global basketball game, in Bilbao northern Spain in 2013.Cindy Ord

Darryl Dawkins receives a tribute during the NBA Global basketball game, in Bilbao northern Spain in 2013.

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  • NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 30: Former NBA Player Darryl Dawkins attends the Autism Speaks Tip-off For A Cure 2015 on March 30, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for Autism Speaks)

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Darryl Dawkins, a high-scoring, big-dunking center who played the bulk of his 15-year NBA career with the Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Nets, has died at the age of 58.

A Lehigh Valley Hospital-Cedar Crest spokesperson confirmed to the Daily News that Dawkins died there at 11:19 a.m. Thursday morning. His family released a statement later in the day listing the cause of death as a heart attack.

“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,” the statement read.

“His family, wife Janice, children Dara, Tabitha, Nicholas and Alexis, along with countless family, friends, and fans, all mourn his loss.”

An intimidating center famous for his backboard-breaking dunks, Darryl Dawkins (c.) spends five of his 15-year NBA career with the Nets.Jim Cummins/NBAE/Getty Images

An intimidating center famous for his backboard-breaking dunks, Darryl Dawkins (c.) spends five of his 15-year NBA career with the Nets.

NBAFDick Raphael/NBAE/Getty Images

Darryl Dawkins grabs a rebound against a rebound during a game against the Boton Celtics circa 1981 at the Boston Garden.

The backboard shatters after Darryl Dawkins of the Philadelphia 76ers slammed in a dunk shot.    AP

The backboard shatters after Darryl Dawkins of the Philadelphia 76ers slammed in a dunk shot.    

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Nicknamed “Chocolate Thunder” by Stevie Wonder, Dawkins was selected fifth overall by the 76ers straight out of high school in the 1975 NBA Draft and became legendary for his ferocious dunks – once shattering two backboards in a three week span in 1979.

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This display led the NBA to pass a rule that made backboard breaking an offense punishable by a fine and/or suspension.

After spending seven seasons with the Sixers, Dawkins was traded to the Nets in 1982. Injuries, however, would soon take their toll on the 6-11 big man, who played his last complete season during the 1983-84 campaign. Stints with the Utah Jazz (1987) and Detroit Pistons (1987-89) followed before Dawkins was out of the NBA.

He remained active in basketball for another decade, playing in Italy for two years before landing with the Harlem Globetrotters. There were also stints with Continental Basketball Association and International Basketball Association before he retired in 2000.

Dawkins made the transition to coaching, most recently as head coach of Lehigh Carbon Community College’s men’s basketball team.

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An outpouring of grief followed the news of Dawkins’ sudden death, with basketball luminaries past and present like Magic Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal, Isiah Thomas, Allen Iverson, Dwight Howard and Jahlil Okafor, among others, sending their condolences via Twitter.

The Brooklyn Nets also released a statement Thursday afternoon, remembering Dawkins for the way he “entertained fans on the court with his powerful dunks and effervescent personality” while also making an “enormous impact in the community.”

“He had an amazing personality and touched everyone in a positive way. Our heartfelt condolences go out to the Dawkins family and to all those who had the pleasure of knowing Darryl. He will be deeply missed.”

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