Within only four weeks, the NBA lost two of its legends; former Philadelphia 76ers Darryl Dawkins, also known as “Chocolate Thunder,” and Moses Malone died at 58 and 60, respectively.

Dawkins died on Aug. 27, 2015 in Allentown, Pennsylvania. The Lehigh County coroner’s office announced that the autopsy revealed the cause of death was a heart attack.

Just two weeks after the passing of Dawkins, news broke that Malone had died on Sept. 13, 2015 in Norfolk, Virginia in a hotel room. According to the Virginia medical examiner’s office, Malone’s death was caused by cardiovascular disease.

After leading his high school team to a state championship, Dawkins was selected fifth overall in the first round of the 1975 NBA Draft by the Philadelphia 76ers. Dawkins had a great professional career, but will always be remembered for his rim-shaking dunks.

One of Dawkins’ most memorable dunks came on Nov. 3, 1979 against the then Kansas City Kings, currently known as the Sacramento Kings, where Dawkins threw down a massive dunk that broke down and shattered the backboard. Three weeks after breaking his first backboard, Dawkins was back at it against the San Antonio Spurs as he broke yet another backboard. As a result, the NBA decided that breaking a backboard was an offense that would result in a fine and suspension.

Not only were his dunks unforgettable, but Dawkins’ personality on and off the court made him the figure that he was. Dawkins was known for naming his dunks; after breaking his first backboard, he decided to name it “The Chocolate-Thunder-Flying, Robinzine-Crying, Teeth-Shaking, Glass-Breaking, Rump-Roasting, Bun-Toasting, Wham-Bam, Glass-Breaker-I-Am-Jam.” Dawkins had several other out of the ordinary names for his dunks like “The Look Out Below,” “The In-Your-Face Disgrace” and many more.

Not only did Dawkins give his dunks names, but he also gave himself some unique nicknames like “Sir Slam” and “Dr. Dunkenstein.” But none stuck more than the one given to him by none other than Stevie Wonder, “Chocolate Thunder.” After meeting Dawkins for the first time in the Sixers’ locker room, Wonder gave him the nickname that stuck with him up until his untimely passing.

Malone, like Dawkins, was also selected straight out of high school to play professionally and was the first to ever accomplish this feat. The Utah Stars selected Malone in the third round of the 1974 American Basketball Association draft and received All-Star Honors in his rookie year. He played two seasons in the ABA before it merged with the NBA in 1976.

Malone’s first team was the Buffalo Braves, but was then traded to the Houston Rockets. In his six seasons with the Rockets, Malone was a five-time All-Star. In 1979, Malone won his first of three MVP awards after finishing the year as the league’s leading rebounder. Malone would lead the Rockets to the NBA Finals in 1981, but they came up short against the Boston Celtics. After another great season, Malone was awarded the MVP award once again in 1982.

Malone was traded to the 76ers the following season. In his first season with Philadelphia, Malone was awarded the MVP in 1983 and led the Sixers to his first and only championship of his storied career, where he was awarded his first and only Finals MVP.

Malone definitely left his mark on the league; he is fifth all-time in rebounds, ranks eighth all-time with a career total of 27,409 points and holds the record for most offensive rebounds in a game, season and career. Malone received his highest achievement in 2001 as he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver in a statement to ESPN, “He was among the most dominant centers ever to play the game and one of the best players in the history of the NBA and the ABA. Even more than his prodigious talent, we will miss his friendship, his generosity, his exuberant personality, and the extraordinary work ethic he brought to the game throughout his 21-year pro career.”

 

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