Darryl Dawkins was one of the most enthusiastic and flamboyant personalities on the court during his NBA career. Playing 14 seasons in the NBA from 1975 to '89, Dawkins played for the Nets, 76ers, Jazz and Pistons. Known as “Chocolate Thunder” during his playing days for his powerful slam dunks, Dawkins was also notable for being one of the first to break down the backboard.
It’s nice to know that his enthusiasm and zest for life has never wavered. Dawkins now spends his time as NBA Ambassador for NBA Nation, a group whose eight-city summer tour promotes fitness and fun.
Dawkins has been a part of the program for many years, and expressed he loves every minute of it. Catching up with Darryl as NBA Nation made its way to New York City this past weekend, he said, “Well my role as Ambassador is to simply make people feel good! We try to bring the NBA experience to every city we go. Kids are able to win prizes too. We’re all about having fun. It’s a great thing and we all really enjoy it."
NBA Nation not only gives fans an opportunity to meet some of their favorite NBA players and legends (in addition to Dawkins, appearances were made by Knicks legends Earl “The Pearl” Monroe and Walt “Clyde” Frazier, as well as current Denver Nuggets guard Gary Forbes), but also a chance to participate with each other in some fun contests.
The competitions include a three-point shooting contest as the “Kia Performance Challenge,” a “Dribble to Stop Diabetes” contest, and the “Sprite Slam Dunk Showdown,” where some average-size competitors threw down some not so average dunks. Clearly an expert in that field, Dawkins served as a judge for the dunk contest.
As he was all about bringing excitement to the NBA, Dawkins insisted he still carries himself with that same level of enthusiasm today, saying, “You know what? I’m still having fun! I haven’t lost my flair for imagination.
"I try and look for players in the league right now that have that same flair for imagination, and I can’t find any! I’m looking for it, though. I’m looking for them hard! I think Derrick Rose has a little imagination. Shaquille O’Neal retired, but he definitely had that imagination!”
Dunkers took advice from Dawkins, who told them they needed to interact and have fun with the crowd if they ultimately wanted to win the contest. Furthermore, he said, “Out here, this is what the people want to see. This is streetball, man! This is what it’s all about.”
As much as he still searches for that same imagination he had on the court, today, Dawkins did admit to admiring some of today’s top dunk artists. He talked about some of his favorite in-game dunkers, going on to say, “I like Kevin Durant as a dunker. Russell Westbrook is up there too. Actually, Andre Iguodala can still throw the ball down! He likes to get busy with it. You can’t forget about Carmelo Anthony, either. I like him also.”
NBA Nation will look to carry the momentum into Washington D.C., its final stop, this coming weekend.
Never at a loss for words, Dawkins added one final note, perhaps furthermore promoting the message of fun that he and NBA Nation like to instill in fans, sayiing, “If you’ve go no imagination, you might as well sleep on your stomach! Because if you turn over, you’ll wake up, and lose your dream.”