On This Date in Sports November 13, 1979: Chocolate Thunder

In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com

Darryl Dawkins of the Philadelphia 76ers brings down the house at Kemper Arena when he smashes the backboard sending shards of glass everywhere. Dawkins nicknamed “Chocolate Thunder” was known for his forceful dunks that he often gave names to. After a long delay, the game resumed with the Sixers losing to the Kansas City Kings 110-103. Dawkins would smash another rim three weeks later, leading to an NBA rule change.

Darryl Dawkins was born on January 11, 1957, in Orlando, Florida. A top high school star, Dawkins was heavily recruited but declared a hardship and became one of the first players to go directly from the schoolyard to the NBA after being drafted fifth overall in the 1975 NBA Draft by the Philadelphia 76ers. Dawkins got a seven-year deal worth one million dollars but watched his development stunted as he spent much of his first two seasons on the bench.

After the 76ers traded George McInnis in 1977, Darryl Dawkins began to see regular playing time. He became a fan favorite in Philadelphia with his forceful dunks, many of which he gave names to. Names like “The Chocolate-Thunder-Flying, Robinzine-Crying, Teeth-Shaking, Glass-Breaking, Rump-Roasting, Bun-Toasting, Wham-Bam, Glass-Breaker-I-Am-Jam.” That was the name he gave to the dunk that shattered the backboard in Kansas City. The dunk sent glass flying everywhere, especially into the hair of Bill Robinzine of the Kings, who was posterized in the monster dunk.

The glass-shattering dunk was the lone highlight for Darryl Dawkins and the 76ers as they suffered a 110-103 loss to the Kansas City Kings. Dawkins, scored just four points in the game, making just 2-of-7 shots from the field. Julius Erving was the Sixers’ leading scorer with 26 points. Phil Ford had a game-high 34 points for the victorious Kings. With the win, Kansas City improved to 6-10 on the season, while the Sixers dropped to 12-3 with the loss.

Darryl Dawkins would shatter another backboard three weeks later at the Spectrum against the San Antonio Spurs. The dunks helped bring much-needed attention to the NBA as they were shown all over the news. However, they created safety concerns, leading Commissioner Larry O’Brien to rule that Dawkins would be fined $5,000 and suspended if he damaged another backboard. The NBA would soon improve backboards, making them shatter-resistant to prevent incidents like the one created by Dawkins.

Darryl Dawkins never quite lived up to expectations as he never was an All-Star and averaged just 12.0 points and 6.1 rebounds per game, in a 15-year NBA career, that would be best remembered for that dunk that shattered the glass.