1983-1984 Stats: 81 GP, 29.8 MPG, 16.8 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 1.5 APG, 0.7 SPG, 1.7 BPG, 59.3 FG%, 73.5 FT%
1983-1984 Advanced: 64.1 TS%, 59.4 eFG%, 17.6 PER, 113 ORtg, 104 DRtg, 7.9 WS
All-Star Team? No
Team: 45-37, lost in second round to Milwaukee Bucks (4-2)
Chocolate Thunder was probably the best dunker the Nets had between Julius Erving and Vince Carter, shooting a ridiculous 59.3 percent from the field on mostly dunks and layups.
According to Dawkins in an interview with Dime Magazine, it was none other than blind musician Stevie Wonder that invented the moniker Chocolate Thunder:
Stevie Wonder used to come the ball games and they would have a guy sitting with him. And the guy would be holding on to his arm, telling him what’s going on, and he would say, “Hey, the big chocolate guy just put down a thunder dunk. The chocolate guy with another monster dunk.” And Stevie Wonder actually gave me the nickname Chocolate Thunder. So a guy who never saw me can give me that name. I think I can wear that well. I don’t even know if he remembers, it’s been so long, but I’ll keep that.
(Digression for a question: How did Stevie Wonder nickname Dawkins “Chocolate Thunder,” despite not having any concept of what chocolate or Dawkins looked like?)
Check out this highlight reel of Dawkins’s top 20 dunks of his career. Though most are with the Philadelphia 76ers, who he spent the first seven years of his career breaking backboards with, there’s a surprising amount that came with him a Nets uniform.
The highlights provide just a glimpse of Dawkins’s raw power as a dunker, his ability to carve space and uncork a wide, swooping one-handed dunk over defenders and make backboards shake with two-hand slams. In terms of pure power, he may only be rivaled by Kenyon Martin in Nets history, and I don’t think K-Mart even had the ability to destroy rims that Dawkins exhibited.
Dawkins also led the league in fouls that year, and led the league both years as a full-time Nets starter. He fouled out in 22 of a possible 81 games that year. To compare, the Nets as a franchise have had a player foul out of a game 20 times since the 2009-2010 season. No player since 1985-1986 (when the NBA officially began counting fouls each game) has fouled out more than 18 times in a season. A vote for Chocolate Thunder is a vote for groundbreaking, unprecedented physicality. In a center, how could you not love that?
Next: Mike Gminski