Darryl Dawkins was far more than just a ferocious dunker and visitor from Planet Lovetron. The Philadelphia 76ers legend emerged as a basketball ambassador and respected mentor to today’s players once his career was finished, in the process cementing his legacy far more than his on-court performance ever could.
The hoops world was stricken with grief on Thursday once news of Dawkins’ sudden passing made the national rounds. And true to the collective sense of brotherhood he helped instill from his playing days to his final breath, “Chocolate Thunder” was remembered by the league in the sweeping, emotional manner that befits his never-ending status as a NBA icon.
Commissioner Adam Silver beautifully summed up Dawkins’ impact on the league.
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The NBA family is heartbroken by the sudden and tragic passing of Darryl Dawkins. We will always remember Darryl for his incredible talent, his infectious enthusiasm and his boundless generosity. He played the game with passion, integrity and joy, never forgetting how great an influence he had on his legions of fans, young and old. Darryl was beloved around the league and he will be deeply missed by his friends, family, teammates, and coaches, as well as the millions of fans who witnessed the high-flying brilliance of the one and only ‘Chocolate Thunder.’ Our thoughts and prayers are with Darryl’s wife, Janice, and the entire Dawkins family during this difficult time.
The Philadelphia 76ers’ community, of which Dawkins remained a visible member long after he left the team in 1982, hold him in a special place.
“The Sixers family is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of an absolute legend, Darryl Dawkins,” Sixers CEO Scott O’Neil said in a statement. “We’ve lost a dear friend and an iconic figure, both on and off the court. We remember fondly not only his thunderous dunks, but, more importantly, his powerful presence and personality. Simply put, Darryl Dawkins was beloved—by his family, friends, former teammates and his fans all over the globe. His endearing charm, infectious smile and unparalleled sense of humor will be sorely missed. ‘Chocolate Thunder’ will always have a special place in our hearts. His family is in our thoughts and prayers.”
Players young and old, opposing and allied, were deeply saddened by Dawkins’ passing. His friendship with Magic Johnson, for instance, was just as profound as his relationship with Karl-Anthony Towns.
Rest in peace, Darryl. You’ll be remembered forever.