If you only looked at his numbers, you'd never call Darryl Dawkins an NBA legend. He never averaged more than 20 points or 10 rebounds per game, the benchmarks of dominance for an NBA big man. He never made an All-Star team and the only category in which he ever led the league was personal fouls.
But Dawkins, whose "Chocolate Thunder" nickname is probably the NBA's greatest, was much more than just stats. He was a personality and a ferocious dunker. Never did those two qualities combine better than on the backboard-breaking dunk he dubbed, "The Chocolate-Thunder-Flying, Robinzine-Crying, Teeth-Shaking, Glass-Breaking, Rump-Roasting, Bun-Toasting, Wham-Bam, Glass-Breaker-I-Am-Jam."
Dawkins was the best kind of NBA dunker—a true brute who did nothing with nuance and everything with force. His most memorable dunks are those that left the court littered with glass, but his best, for my money, is number two in the video below, which sees him leaping into the rafters and putting an unidentified Laker on a poster. It's grainy, but not too grainy to see that Dr. Dunk broke the Hippocratic oath and murdered that man.
A man on the court, Dawkins was always something of a kid outside of it. His imagination was legendary and his creativity endless. He claimed to be from the Planet Lovetron, dabbled in drugs and says he slept with 1,000 women. In short, Dawkins was what the NBA sorely lacks these days—an interesting dude who could ball.
Photos by Robert Lewis/NBAE/Getty Images