Posted: Tuesday March 1, 2005 1:07PM; Updated: Tuesday March 1, 2005 3:50PM
Bill Walton had his hands full with 6-foot-11 inches and 251 pounds of Darryl Dawkins, but his Blazetrs still won the '77 title.
Dick Raphael/NBAE via Getty Images
SI.com: You also say in your book that you controlled Bill Walton ('77) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar ('80, '82) when you played them in the NBA Finals but your teammates just couldn't control the other guards and forwards. Why have NBA historians overlooked your outstanding defensive performances?
DD: I think it was because I was so young and had such a big mouth -- as I got older my mouth got bigger. But at the ages of 19 to 22 for me to hold those guys to 19 and 20 points when they were used to getting 30 or 25, I was doing a pretty good job on them. Other Portland players who weren't even respectable scorers stepped up and killed us. The other L.A. players who normally got 14 or 15 points started getting 25 or 30. Anybody can look at the stat sheet and tell. Even a blind man can tell when he's walking in the rain.
SI.com: Regarding the 76ers' and Trail Blazers' '77 NBA Finals, you said your Sixers played "black ball" and the Blazers played "white ball," and that the reason Portland won is because they played white ball better than you played black ball. Please explain.
DD: People don't understand the difference between white and black basketball. What was considered white basketball was passing the ball, and whoever got it scored. They didn't care who was the leading scorer, who was the leading rebounder or whose name was in the paper as long as they won. Whereas in black basketball, if one guy is making $21 million and the other guy is making $22 million, it's all about "who's the man?" Whose name was in the paper? Who hit the game-winning shot? And that was the difference. In black basketball you wanted to some shake 'n bake, you wanted to put on a show for the crowd. You might do a hundred-thousand-dollar move and finish it with a ten-cent shot. Where in white basketball, all they did was come off the screen, square up and -- boom -- hit a jumper, knock it down. They'd box out and get the rebound whereas we were coming up and jumping over people. It's a big difference.
SI.com: What kind of basketball was being played in the 2004 Olympics when NBA stars got beat down by Lithuania, Greece and Puerto Rico?
DD: Not good. That's it, just not good. Not good, USA ass-kicking basketball.
SI.com: I always thought there was just winning basketball and losing basketball?
DD: That's it. I watched the whole Olympics. We played not to lose instead of to win and it backfired on us. I think Larry Brown is a great coach but I don't think we had enough jump shooters.
SI.com: During Game 2 in the '77 NBA championship you got into a fight with Portland's Bobby Gross, precipitating a bench-clearing brawl during which Maurice Lucas sucker-punched you from behind. Unlike the incident earlier this season in which the Pacers players went into the stands in Auburn Hills, the fight between the Sixers and Blazers was player against player. Why didn't Ron Artest go after Ben Wallace?
DD: Well Ben is a big boy and he can thump pretty good. So I don't think Artest really wanted to up against Ben Wallace. I think that once he got calm and the guy threw the beer on him he wanted to prove his manhood was at stake. He had already walked away from one fight.
When I played, we'd fight and then two days later we'd go out and have a beer together and say, "You got me that time. I'll get you next time." Today guys can't do that. They can't throw it aside and move on. A bunch of times I wanted to go in the stands and get people. A bunch of times I wanted to get the [opposing] coach. You just can't do that. A fan would be talking, talking, talking and you talk back and finally he'd strike a nerve. It happened all the time with us. We'd just tell the guy "I'll see you after the game." Or we'd say, "That's it now, no more guys for your mother." He didn't have a comeback line for that.
SI.com: You put the "slam" in the "slam dunk." You named your dunks -- Your Mama, In Your Face Disgrace, Cover Yo Damn Head, Earthquake Breaker, Left-Handed Spine Chiller Supreme, and so on. How did you come up with this name: Turbo Sexophonic Delight?
DD: It was just a swivel of the hips. You had to swivel the hips so fast that you coulda kicked in the turbo on a new car. And for the sexophonic part, you had to do a little hump -- a little boogie while you're going in there. You know, seeing Parliament without their funk is like seeing Darryl Dawkins without his dunk. I had to have it, man.