Friday, August 28, 2015

The coolest nickname in sports: RIP, 'Chocolate Thunder'

There have been lots of cool nicknames in sports.

But there was only one "Chocolate Thunder."

It's still hard to believe that the man-child, Darryl Dawkins, is gone.

The Sixers' great died Thursday at the age of 58.

Yes, Darryl Dawkins was 58.

I know, it's hard to believe.

That's because this ever-smiling giant of a man always carried with him a child's smile.

Dawkins entered the game literally as a child, the first player in NBA history to go from high school to the pros.

Dawkins will forever be known for his ferocious dunks, which earned him that all-time moniker, "Chocolate Thunder." I can still remember watching the first time one of those fiberglass backboards shattered under the fury of a Dawkins' dunk.

Dawkins spent 14 seasons in the NBA, the bulk of them with the Sixers, along with stops in New Jersey, Utah and Detroit. He averaged 12 points and 6.1 rebounds in 726 games.

But those numbers aren't what he will be remembered for, not that they're not respectable numbers.

Actually, in recent years, through his work with the Sixers, Dawkins became that most unlikely of sports characters, a truly decent and likeable guy.

As I approach 60, it's hard for me to fathom that "Chocolate Thunder" is gone at 58.

Columnist Jack McCaffery offers an appreciation of a most special Philadelphia athlete.

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