Darryl Dawkins: How He Made The NBA Exciting

Darryl Dawkins was known for his rim-shattering, backboard-breaking, arena-shaking slam dunks. Darryl Dawkins was drafted out of high school and into the NBA's Philadelphia 76ers in 1975. Amazingly, he was the first to come to the NBA directly from high school, as ESPN explored. He wasn't the greatest or most well-rounded player on the court, but he played in the Finals on three occasions, and he carved a niche for himself in a period of time when the NBA as a whole was on a downswing.

Darryl's most legendary feats were punishing two rims during games three weeks apart, creating a tremendous shattering of backboard glass that spilled all over the court. The NBA had to change the type of backboards they used because of Dawkins, and they had to ban hanging on the rim after a dunk. Shaquille O'Neal brought the backboard breaking routine back into practice during his playing days, but by then the backboards were safer, having already been made Dawkins-proof.

Darryl Dawkins spent the majority of his NBA career first with the Philiadelphia 76ers, before moving on to the New Jersey Nets. He holds a 57 percent shooting percentage for his career, a great accomplishment, and seventh on the NBA all-time list. On the other side of that, Darryl set a record for fouls in a season. To say he didn't always please the refs is an understatement as heavy as a Dawkins dunk. When he made a statement on the court you were likely to feel it in one way or another.

Dawkins also had a wild personality. He was known as Chocolate Thunder from Lovetron. He helped keep the NBA afloat and exciting in the days before Larry Bird and Magic Johnson would revitalize professional basketball in the 1980s. But the eccentric Darryl Dawkins was not easy to coach. He kept a lot of habits sure to give the most tolerant of coaches headaches.

Though Dawkins sometimes befuddled teammates and coaches, he was far from an unlikable guy. He was no Dennis Rodman. He had more in common with people like George Clinton, and other amiable, otherworldly celebrities. Darryl Dawkins held a niche of his own in the world of professional sports.

Dawkins was born in Orlando, Florida, and died today in Allentown, Pennsylvania. As the NBA and America mourns the loss of one of basketball's great personalities, NBA greats and NBA hopefuls, especially those who idolize the slam dunk, can't forget Darryl Dawkins, the man, who The Washington Post reminds us, had "The Chocolate-Thunder-Flying, Robinzine-Crying, Teeth-Shaking, Glass-Breaking, Rump-Roasting, Bun-Toasting, Wham-Bam, Glass-Breaker-I-Am-Jam."

[Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for Autism Speaks]