From his toes to
the top of his head, 82 inches away, Dawkins said he was overcome by a force he
later called Chocolate Thunder. He claimed he could not control its desire to
"escape out of my body."
A moment later
the backboard exploded with a crackling pop that sprayed thousands of shards of
glass onto the floor. Players in the vicinity of the basket were momentarily
stunned, then scrambled to get out of the way. There was a second or two of
hushed disbelief, and then the arena broke into pandemonium.
It took one hour
and eight minutes to replace the basket. For not only had Dawkins shattered the
glass board, he also had bent the basket support pole with the force of his
dunk. As both teams temporarily left the floor, the crowd began to mill around
the court, picking up pieces of glass as souvenirs. Then Larry Staverman, the
Kings' vice-president of operations, suggested the team should sweep up the
pieces and sell them.
Dawkins had to name the Kansas City dunk, but this one required something
special. He kept the world in the dark for a week before finally immortalizing
Kansas City's Bill Robinzine (who had the misfortune of being under the
backboard as it disintegrated) by calling it the Chocolate-Thunder-Flying,
Robinzine-Crying, Teeth-Shaking, Glass-Breaking, Rump-Roasting, Bun-Toasting,
Wham-Bam, Glass-Breaker-I-Am Jam. That seemed to say it all.
But, as always,
the sensational dunk didn't mean much. His team lost, and everyone wanted to
know why a guy that big and that strong and that fast, one who could break
backboards in a single bound, couldn't manage to get more than six rebounds a
"When did you start naming dunks, Darryl?"
"It started against Buffalo. I threw one down against this guy. BOOM! He ducked and looked back at me and said, shocked, 'What was that?' I thought about it for a second and I said, 'Yo-Mama!' "
on his potential began early for Dawkins and reached a crescendo in his last
year of high school. As a senior at Maynard Evans, where he averaged 20 points
and 11 rebounds a game, Dawkins had already grown to 6'10", his height
while in the NBA. Jack McMahon, who was then an assistant coach and scout for
the 76ers, remembers the first time that he saw Dawkins play. "Pat Williams
had gotten a tip from an old friend of his, former major league pitcher Jim
Kaat, that there was a high school player we should come down and look at,"
So McMahon was
dispatched to Florida with orders to phone Kaat on his arrival, and Kaat would
make arrangements for McMahon to attend the game. McMahon arrived in Orlando,
called Kaat and got a housekeeper who spoke only Spanish. Unable to contact
Kaat, he was momentarily at a loss. "I didn't even know Dawkins's name or
where he played, because Kaat was supposed to be arranging all of this," he
says. McMahon finally called a local paper and asked where he could see the
best big man in the city play that night. He got to the gym early and watched
the JV game. Then the small gym began to fill rapidly. "I started talking
to people around me about Darryl and everyone loves him and then they come out
of the locker room," McMahon says, chuckling as he recounts the story.
"Out come a few little guys. Like normal high school kids. Then out comes
Darryl. He had his head shaved back then. But, hey, no way can this kid be in
high school! He's got to be 25 years old. Same body as he has now. Got 44
points with four guys sagging back on him every time."
impressed enough to give Williams an ecstatic report, and then they waited for
Sixers coach Gene Shue to get a chance to scout Dawkins. Both were concerned
because, says Williams, "Gene was usually not overly impressed with young