Darryl Dawkins died at the age of 58 Thursday in Pennsylvania. There is no official cause of death, but it was sudden: Wednesday he was tweeting about the Little League World Series and sharing pictures of his dog, and next we heard, Chocolate Thunder had passed away.
In terms of on-court basketball accomplishments -- the stuff we'd use to describe almost every other basketball player -- Darryl Dawkins wasn't a particularly important figure. He never won an NBA championship, as he was traded from the Sixers to the Nets the year before Philly won the title. He was never an All-Star. If you look in the record books, he is most prominent for committing the most fouls in an NBA season (386 in 1983-84, or 4.8 a game.) He only averaged 12 points and 6 rebounds per game. He is not in the Basketball Hall of Fame, and Basketball-Reference lists his probability of making the Hall at 0.000.
None of this matters. Darryl Dawkins was too big, too strong, and too damn funky to be contained by our basketball world, so he created his own.
Darryl Dawkins' dunks were too powerful to be contained by our rims:
Dawkins said he didn't try to break the first one, but did try the second time. Then we changed our rims to fit him.
Darryl Dawkins' dunks were too powerful to be contained by our scoring system:
''Everybody says a dunk is only two points, but it gets your team hyped, gets the crowd all excited and takes the starch out of other teams, especially when you dunk on somebody,'' Dawkins said. ''And I always dunked on somebody.''
Darryl Dawkins' dunks were too powerful to be contained by our language. That's why he had to call his rim-shattering slam the Chocolate-Thunder-Flying, Robinzine-Crying, Teeth-Shaking, Glass-Breaking, Rump-Roasting, Bun-Toasting, Wham-Bam-Glass-Breaker-I-Am-Jam.
(BTW, you should watch a Darryl Dawkins dunk highlight reel. It was about more than just breaking rims.)
Darryl Dawkins couldn't be defined by our name for him. He couldn't even be defined by our planet. He sure as hell can't be defined by rings or All-Star appearances.
Now Chocolate Thunder has returned to Planet Lovetron, where he belongs. We wish him a pleasant eternity studying Interplanetary Funksmanship.