Darryl Dawkins, NBA Legend, Dies at Age 58

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistAugust 27, 2015

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Longtime NBA center Darryl Dawkins, perhaps best known for his emphatic slam dunks, died Thursday at the age of 58.

After WFMZ-TV initially reported the former Philadelphia 76ers star's death, a Lehigh Valley Hospital-Cedar Crest spokesperson confirmed the report to John Finger of CSNPhilly.com. Finger noted the cause of death is unknown. 

Sean Highkin of Bleacher Report passed along a message from Dawkins' family:

Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports provided a statement from 76ers CEO Scott O'Neil:

Dawkins was affectionately referred to as "Chocolate Thunder," a nickname given to him by legendary singer Stevie Wonder due to his penchant for victimizing opposing defenders with highlight-reel dunks.

The Orlando, Florida, native truly earned his moniker in 1979 when he twice shattered the backboard with his devastating slams, one of which can be seen in this GIF, courtesy of Complex Sports:

After being chosen with the No. 5 overall selection in the 1975 NBA draft out of high school by the Sixers, Dawkins went on to spend 14 seasons in the league with the 76ers, the New Jersey Nets, the Utah Jazz and the Detroit Pistons.

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He averaged 12 points, 6.1 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game over the course of his career. Although he was never named to an All-Star team, he ranks seventh on the NBA's all-time field-goal percentage list at 57.2 percent, according to Basketball-Reference.com.

The big man left a lasting impression on many due to his larger-than-life personality, including ESPN.com's Dave McMenamin:

Fellow 76ers icon Allen Iverson passed along his condolences after the news broke:

While Dawkins was formidable on the court, he will always be remembered for the flair and showmanship that made the NBA so great in the 1970s and 1980s.

He is one of the most iconic figures in the history of the 76ers and Nets organizations, and there is no question his presence and radiance will be missed by their fans.

Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter.

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