Originally appear in the April 30, 1980, affair of Central Sports. Reprinted actuality with the author’s permission.
Early February. Frank Dawkins is sitting in a second-floor appointment fabricated of adhesive and cloistral adjoin the babble bank in the plant. Absolutely what is bogus in the bulb is adamantine to say, but it has article to do with a lot of guys bottomward pipes on a accurate floor.
Dawkins’s sneakers are beyond and comatose on Arnold’s desk. Arnold is the business partner, and it is a long, continued way from his board to Frank Dawkins’s chair. You don’t allegation to be told who is Darryl Dawkins’s father.
The bulb is in Queens. Frank and Arnold bought it four and a bisected years ago, about the time Darryl was advancing out of Maynard Evans Aerial Academy in Orlando, Florida, and signing a six-year, million-dollar arrangement with the Philadelphia 76ers.
“Right afterwards we got the place, Darryl aloof absolved in one day,” Arnold says. “He looked about here, smilin’, and told us he was gonna accomplish added money than we did. Aloof absolved appropriate in, bethink that, Frank?”
Frank Dawkins smiles, nods. He is on the buzz appropriate now with a woman alleged Ann, allocation her for a raccoon coat. “Was that a 10 or a 12 now, honey?” he says.
There is a pause, he holds up his duke to arrest her. “I alone ambition I had the words to accurate my hopeless acknowledgment accepting been with you alike once,” he says. “No, no, I would not let snow abatement on New York afterwards you actuality actuality to authority my hand. … Yes, oh yes. There allegation accept been a thousand things my affection forgot to say …”
Arnold all-overs his head, shuts one eye and looks at Frank. “That’s one of eight,” he says. “This one’s calling from Florida. Promises every one of them raccoon coats, sends them flowers. Al there has to go allegation them with his Sears card.”
Al is Frank’s huge brother. He is spilling over both abandon of a armchair in the corner, additionally abashed his head. Frank is adage his affection is actually sad aback he thinks of all that adeptness accept been, and Al puts his easily over his ears.
“He gets all that from Bo Diddley,” he says. “You allocution like that too if you appetite to absorb two hours in Sam Goody’s account the aback of almanac albums …”
Frank is cradling the buzz now, afterpiece to it, about alarming into Ann’s Florida ear. He says, “I will appearance you the accurate New York, Frank Dawkins’s New York …”
Arnold looks at the ceiling. “Burger King, McDonald’s …”
Frank puts his duke over the mouthpiece. “This is not a Burger King lady,” he says.
“Ask her about gettin’ in bed with you and addition chick,” Arnold says.
Dawkins nods. He says, “Darling, Arnold says if you adulation me you will do my constant affair that I accept consistently wanted. … You and addition lady, yes, at the aforementioned time.” There is a continued pause. Dawkins says, “A adulation like you would be ashen if aggregate anyway.”
He asks already added about what admeasurement raccoon she wears, absently scribbling a 10 on the pad in advanced of him, afresh says “bye-bye” and, still captivation the phone, looks beyond the board at Arnold.
“She says afterwards I cull that off with her and addition banty I adeptness as able-bodied go over to Iran to get them hostages free.”
Until the day that Darryl absolved into the appointment in Queens, Frank Dawkins had apparent his additional son three, maybe four times aback he was a baby. He’d larboard his ancestors in Orlando and came t0 the affliction allotment of Harlem in 1962. He’d waited tables, apprenticed trucks, and afresh assuredly met Arnold and gotten into some money blanket pipes. He abashed to a nicer accommodation in the affliction allotment of Harlem.
Dawkins puts the asleep buzz aback on the board and the words appear harder. “I am appreciative of Darryl,” he says. “Proud because he fabricated it aback I wasn’t there to help. The NBA don’t beggarly nothin’ to me, I never admired basketball anyway. But he accepted he could do what he had to do. It was inevitable, I think. Aloof as it was assured that I would do what I had to do. One of the times I did see him, we had what I would alarm actual able words. It showed me appropriate there, I didn’t accept to anguish about him, he had character.”
Frank Dawkins studies his hands. “Of course, I affliction not actuality there aback he was growing up. Darryl and Mitchell and Chico, too. If any of them bare annihilation I had, all they’d accept to do was ask. Maybe a ancestor who was there wouldn’t feel that way. You compensate, but the ancestors is a basal thing.”
Arnold says, “You’re not activity to say you’d accord up all the leg you’ve had for family?”
Dawkins thinks. “Well, all the ladies I had aback aback I left, it wasn’t abundant aback then.”
“I appetite to apprehend you say it. ‘I would accord up all the leg I had to accession my family.'”
Frank Dawkins smiles, runs his fingers through long, gray hair. He can’t accomplish that appear out of his mouth.
The two burghal New York sportswriters are sitting in the columnist box at the Spectrum, allegory what is amiss with Darryl Dawkins. “Ever aback all the pub with the backboards, he got the big head,” one of them says.
The added one aloof nods adjoin the court, “Lovetron. Amber Paradise. Attending at him, talking to ushers, bedlam …” The sportswriters are so disgusted they cannot continue.
It is three account into the additional division and Darryl is on the bank in aboriginal abhorrent trouble. And aloof now he is adage article to an usher. It is unprofessional, of course, and abhorrent to burghal New York sportswriters, but Darryl Dawkins still talks to anybody he wants to allocution to. He additionally picks his own friends.
Some of them are beyond the Delaware River in New Jersey, and if they don’t affliction abundant about basketball, they don’t authority it adjoin Darryl that he does. One owns a almanac store, addition one has spent some time in jail.
“That one,” Dawkins says, “Jack McMahon keeps tellin’ me to break away, break away. He says he goin’ to aching me. A continued time ago he got in some assemblage trouble. He was doin’ a assemblage thing, and they got him on speed. Sellin’ speed, and somethin’ else. Yeah. Murder. But that was a continued time ago, and I don’t go attending at what you did 10 years ago. I told him, ‘If you still doin’ annihilation like that, don’t accompany it with you aback you about me.'”
McMahon is an abettor drillmaster with the 76ers, the man who brought Darryl to Philadelphia. He scouted him, he recommended him. And afterwards he got to Philly, he helped him at a time aback arch drillmaster Gene Shue wouldn’t. You will never apprehend Jack McMahon say a bad chat about Darryl Dawkins.
“I go bottomward to Orlando one weekend aback Darryl was a senior,” he says. “Cost me $20 to get in the aback door, and I aloof angle there, watching Darryl. He’s arch breaks, cutting from the perimeter, rebounding. He’s so strong. It was adamantine to accept I was watching a 17-year-old kid.
“Everybody in the stands is agreeable and assault anniversary added on the aback and, of course, I’m aloof watching Darryl. Assuredly a guy aing to me looks over and says, ‘Don’t you affliction who wins?’ I acquaint him nope. He says, ‘Where are you from?’ and I acquaint him Philadelphia. The guy says, ‘Philly?’ I told him, ‘I don’t know, I aloof like basketball …'”
Back on the court, Caldwell Jones picks up his third abhorrent and Darryl goes aback into the game. For three account he is aggregate a centermost can be. He blocks a shot, fills the lane for fast breaks, rebounds at both ends of the court.
As he slams home a dunk, the visiting sportswriters alpha agreeable for a abstruse foul. “He’s blind from the rim, attending at that shit. They’re abashed to alarm it on him.”
Dawkins is additionally arena defense, which agency he is application his hands. All players in the NBA use their easily to comedy defense, but Darryl seems to accept added aptitude for it than others. Aback he doesn’t appetite somebody to be somewhere, he moves them. Aback he doesn’t appetite somebody to leave, he holds them. With Bob Lanier and Artis Gilmore, Dawkins, at 6-11, 260 pounds, is one of the three arch bodies in basketball. He is the alone one still accepting stronger.
In the bathrobe allowance afterwards the 76ers accept baffled them, one of the Nets will say, “Darryl? Strong? He holds your duke to your side, you anticipate it’s nailed there.”
“The duke analysis aphorism aching my game,” Darryl will say later. “When they took that out, it meant all you could do was advance and release, advance and release. You couldn’t grab no more.” He thinks a minute. “It aching Henry (Bibby) too. Henry’ll chaw you to accumulate gettin’ accomplished …”
Just now though, Darryl feels addition is abaft him, beneath the basket. He alcove back, afterwards looking, and his duke finds one of the Nets’ guards who has appear afar beneath on a pick. To be added specific, he has begin the arch of one of the Nets’ guards who has appear afar on a pick. The legs move, the arch stays appropriate area Darryl is captivation it. The bouncer screams, Nets drillmaster Kevin Loughery screams, the adjudicator misses it.
A minute later, at the added end, the aforementioned adjudicator calls Dawkins on a afar brawl abhorrent that involves about no acquaintance and doesn’t beggarly annihilation to the comedy itself. Referees in the NBA do that sometimes, aback they apperceive they accept absent article earlier.
The alarm stops Darryl. He stands with his easily on his hips, his anxiety beyond and both collapsed on the floor, attractive confused, and maybe insulted. He opens his mouth, all-overs his arch and walks away.
“You don’t appear appropriate into the referee’s face,” he says. “You abash ’em and they’ll get you back. I bethink already George [McGinnis] alleged one of them a racist in the newspaper, and for weeks they alleged him actuality you couldn’t believe. Assuredly he had to apologize so they’d let him alone. I don’t say nothin’ to them except maybe if I’m gettin’ captivated a lot. I adeptness say, ‘Please booty a look.’ Mostly though, somebody do article to me, I aloof do it back.”
Suddenly Darryl changes. You accept to be watching him to apprehension it, but he is a adumbration slower, he loses clue of his man beneath the boards and gives up a bargain bassinet on an abhorrent rebound, he isn’t in the offense. Afterwards a basket, he half-runs to the added end of the court, stops aback he gets there like Roger Bannister at the end of his mile.
A anniversary later, during a morning convenance a attendant will stop at the aperture of the Widener Academy acreage house, angular on his broom, and watch the 76ers go four-on-four up and bottomward the court, and this is what he’ll say: “It abiding don’t booty Darryl continued to stop runnin’, do it?”
Dawkins says, “Whatever happens out on the court, I try not to let it bother me. I apperceive sometimes I’m activity to attending like a actor dollars and sometimes I’m activity to attending like 55 dollars. Aback I’m 55 dollars, I try to do added things—pass, rebound, apply on defense. I acclimated to get my animosity aching 40 times a game. Aback I’d ask to accompany the brawl about to me and they didn’t, I anticipation they were doubtin’ my talent. But afresh I assuredly accomplished there was added things goin’ on. If Julius (Erving) can accord up allotment of his d (for the team), able-bodied …”
After the game, Dawkins sits in sunset-colored underwear and gold necklaces, bubbler a beer in advanced of his locker, talking to a dozen reporters: about the game, about Lovetron and Amber Paradise—the two planets Darryl invented—about burst glass. He has article aing to an boilerplate night—15 points, nine or 10 rebounds. Dr. J is sitting on the attic with ice accoutrements over anniversary knee. Steve Mix is on a table with ice on his knees, too.
Bobby Jones, the third advanced and the amateur Dawkins looks up to added than anybody abroad on the aggregation (“He actually works adamantine at practice, man.”) has already dressed and left.
A seven- or eight-year-old kid, somebody’s nephew, works his way adjoin Dawkins, too shy to say annihilation aback he gets there. He is captivation a account of Eagles quarterback Ron Jaworski that he got with a backpack of balloon gum.
Dawkins easily the kid his beer and takes the card. “Hey … a sissy.” He alcove for his beer, and the kid alcove for the sissy. Dawkins presses a anchor into the boy’s cheek. They beam at anniversary added a second, and aback the kid hugs the duke adjoin his face, and afresh he’s gone.
Darryl is still watching him through the army aback one of the burghal sportswriters aback is in advanced of him, cogent him he wants an interview. That’s the way he puts it. “I appetite to allocution to you.” Article comes beyond Darryl’s face that you wouldn’t appetite to see if you were alone with him. He starts to dress.
The sportswriter sits bottomward in advanced of Darryl and searches his eyes. He puts a band recorder in advanced of Dawkins’s aperture and says, “Do you feel not activity to academy has aching you, in all-embracing fundamentals?”
Darryl says, “I accept answered that catechism 34 times tonight, and now I forgot what I said the aboriginal time so I ain’t activity to acknowledgment it again.”
“Some bi-weekly people,” he says later, “they act like they own you. They got one like that at the [Philadelphia] Inquirer, too. Aback I aboriginal came to Philadelphia, a lot of them brash me like I was apprenticed because I didn’t go to college. I had affidavit for that—I didn’t booty no money beneath the table, I had to accede my family—but they talked to me way down, like a child. Finally, one day I told one, ‘I admired if you had somethin’ to ask me, you’d aloof go advanced and ask it so I can acknowledgment it and get out of here.'”
Then he pulls on his shoes, puts two Lite beers in a biking bag a academy kid aback in Florida corrective for him, and walks out of the building. Outside, bisected a hundred women are cat-and-mouse for him, they all appetite to ride in his Corvette.
The burghal New York biographer all-overs his head. “Do you accept that?” he says. “Do you accept what you aloof saw?”
Around the alliance a lot of bodies attending at Darryl Dawkins and don’t accept what they see. The strength, the quickness, the touch. Bodies say he has added adeptness than he knows what to do with.
On the added hand, there is the complaint that Dawkins hasn’t developed as fast as he should have. The plays he is in, he dominates, but he isn’t in abundant plays. He doesn’t set abounding picks, he is still decumbent to aboriginal abhorrent trouble. And his best amateur are consistently adjoin the league’s weakest teams.
Some of that you can duke to Gene Shue, and some of it goes to the bearings Darryl absolved into in Philadelphia in 1975. The aggregation afresh had George McGinnis, Lloyd Free, Joe Bryant. A year afterwards they added Julius Erving. It was a aggregation of egos, of one-on-one basketball, led by a drillmaster who was a substituter, not a teacher.
Five years later, in Darryl’s aboriginal year as a starter, the appearance of the aggregation has changed—the 76ers are one of the atomic egocentric teams in basketball. McGinnis, Chargeless and Bryant are gone, Erving, an actually able athlete, has adapted his d to fit Billy Cunningham’s.
But while Cunningham has added time for Dawkins, and added interest, he is still a adolescent drillmaster and not a abecedary in the faculty that Jack Ramsay, Red Holzman or Hubie Brown is.
The fairest and best basal admeasurement of an NBA centermost is how abundant bigger he makes the blow of his aggregation play—think of Willis Reed and the Knicks—and so far Darryl Dawkins, who has agnate tools, hasn’t approached that. But it is early, Dawkins is still alone 23 years old.
Cunningham says, “He’s accepting bigger all the time,” and Darryl has all the time in the world.
When a apprentice enters Maynard Evans Aerial Academy in Orlando, he is appropriate to ample out a area that asks him, amid added things, what he wants to do with his life.
“I bethink aback I begin out I had Darryl, I went in and looked up his access sheet. He’d wrote bottomward that he capital to booty affliction of his ancestors on the aboriginal line. Afresh he’d skipped the aing line, and bottomward at the basal there was article about bein’ a disc jockey.”
Fred Pennington was Darryl Dawkins’s aerial academy drillmaster at Evans, a alternation of one-story barrio that spreads out, an reconsideration at a time, over several acres. He is the vice-principal now, but the assurance on the aperture still says “Coach Pennington.”
Inside the aperture are walls covered with account of Darryl Dawkins and his 1975 accompaniment championship basketball team, a board that belongs to somebody neat, a babyish man with sideburns and new ulcers.
“I accomplished basketball 24 years,” Pennington says. “Always the dream I had was a accompaniment championship. You got to accept how it was. I went 10 years afterwards a amateur over six bottom and them aback I had Darryl and two added kids, 6-8 and 6-5. The three of them would go into a Crystal Hamburger joint, and the bill’d be $24.
“Darryl was apparently the best high-school basketball amateur who anytime lived and he was one of the best bodies I anytime met; you’d balloon sometimes you were talkin’ to a kid.
“He formed sweepin’ up afterwards academy and Saturdays he formed over to Charlie’s annoy place. He appear to chic every day except aback he’d leave to aces oranges to accord his mother a nice Christmas. There was consistently somethin’ … peaceful amid us.
“I saw bodies bandy bananas at him, beastly crackers. Once, in a d up in Winter Park, somebody said somethin’ about his mother and he chased the kid appropriate up into the stands.
“He came aback to the bank and began to acquaint me what happened, and I hit him appropriate in the with the ball. It was the alone time annihilation like that anytime happened amid us. I looked at him and admitting he was activity to cry. Central I said, ‘My God’; alfresco I said, ‘Don’t you anytime account to me.’
“Later I told him, ‘What acceptable are you activity to be if you get befuddled out every time somebody says somethin’ about your mother? He was a coachable kid. You could get on Darryl’s anatomy afterwards him showin’ you his columnist clippings.”
Fred Pennington looks about his appointment at the pictures. “I don’t know, I accomplished addition year afterwards he left. But all of a abrupt I saw area I had gone so continued at it, I acquainted tired. I could see it in myself that I wasn’t acquisitive anymore…”
He all-overs his head. “I admired him,” he says. “I still do. Bodies apprehend him to be absolutely the aforementioned aback he comes back, they don’t accept you can’t go to places like Las Vegas and Bourbon Artery and L.A. and not change some.
“You know, though, aback Charlie and I went to the NCAA in Philly, Darryl [in his amateur year] met us at the plane, he gave us his car to use, he agitated our accoutrements appropriate into the hotel. You brainstorm that? He agitated our accoutrements into the hotel…”
Half a mile away, Charlie Caperilla sits in his annoy abundance area Darryl formed Saturdays and holidays while he was in aerial school. He additionally formed there at $2.50 an hour the aboriginal two summers afterwards he’d alive his million-dollar arrangement with the 76ers.
“I’ll consistently feel like I owe Charlie,” says Darryl.
Charlie says, “The acumen I got absorbed in him like I did was basketball, but the acumen I brash him like I did was because I admired him. Never had to acquaint him to work, he’d consistently acquisition article to do. He approved hard. I brash him, I lent him my car. I told him what I anticipation aback the academy coaches came by Saturdays to action him cars and money.”
There are pictures of Darryl on Charlie Caperilla’s walls too. He takes the cigar out of his aperture and anxiously lifts one of them down, turns it around. On the aback Darryl has written, “To the coolest white dad a atramentous dude anytime had.”
He looks at it a minute, puts it aback on the bank and gets his cigar out of the ashtray. “At banquet the added night, my babe Kelly—just angry eight years old—suddenly puts her angle down, and appropriate out of the dejected she says, ‘Damn, I absence Darryl.’ Don’t apperceive area she best up that affectionate of language.”
Caperilla is still attractive at the account of Darryl. “Did I acquaint you the time aback he and Fred went to Philly for the NCAA finals? Appear got us appropriate at the airport and agitated our accoutrements appropriate into the auberge …”
As anon as he alive with the 76ers, Darryl Dawkins bought a abode for his mother. It’s a craven abode on the angle of a quiet street, about two afar from the activity area the Dawkins lived. There are flowers in the yard, and Darryl’s mother and his brothers Mitchell and Chico are aloof aback from church.
In the alive allowance are bisected a hundred trophies—one of them for the accompaniment discus almanac Darryl set in inferior aerial school—a band of atramentous dolls sitting in annoyed dresses on the floor, a life-sized agenda Darryl continuing in the corner.
Harriet Dawkins moves the dolls, gently, to accomplish a abode to sit on the sofa. “Let me get my babies out the way,” she says.
Mitchell and Chico airing through bare-ed, bistro chicken. Neither of them are absolutely as alpine as Darryl, but they attending about as strong. Mitchell is a year beforehand than Chico. “Them boys acclimated to fight, I’d about-face the corrupt on ’em,” Mrs. Dawkins says. “Darryl appear home, they still go alfresco and altercate sometimes.”
Mitchell says it wasn’t absolutely fighting. “It was testin’ anniversary other. Alleged it the Mandingo Drop, you go til you can’t go no more. … No,” he says, “the neighbors didn’t appear alfresco to watch. They consistently go central and watch.”
Harriet Dawkins says, “Darryl was the longest babyish you anytime seen. Aback everybody abroad wearin’ bristles and six shoes, Darryl was wearin’ nines. He went up accomplished Mitchell, and he jus’ never stopped. Everybody was consistently sayin’ aback he ample out, that boy’s activity to be somethin’.” She smiles. “And they were right.”
She looks at the agenda Darryl and sighs. “Sometimes I attending at him and ask, ‘Lord, how could it be?’
“Even aback he was little, he was consistently tryin’ to attending out for his family. His sister get sick, you could hardly get him to talk. There was so abundant affliction in that boy. Still is. If somethin’s amiss in the family, it aloof breach him apart.
“We got to the abode now we don’t let him apperceive if somethin’s happened, if we can advice it. He alarm home, oh yes. And we alarm him. And ancient at three o’clock in the morning on the aforementioned day, he’ll alarm up again, aloof ask what we’re doin’.”
The buzz rings then. Darryl, from Denver. His mother says, “Hello, baby, how are you?”
Darryl has the flu. She asks him if he wants her to accelerate up some of his grandmother’s concoction.
Amanda Jones is 74 and she still lives in the abode beyond the artery from the projects, the abode area she and her babe aloft Darryl and his brothers and sister, brought them up to be Christians beneath the advice of the Rev. William Davis Judge and his Antioch Primitive Baptist Church.
The abbey is about four blocks away. A block or two further than that is the cemetery area her ancillary of the ancestors is buried. She did not appetite a new abode aback Darryl alive his contract, so Darryl had the old abode remodeled.
She gave up maid assignment six years ago because she got sick. “Stomach troubles,” she says, “and I bending so bad. You apperceive doctors, they don’t never about-face you loose.”
She is sitting in her armchair now, watching a golf clash on the television set. A pikestaff leans beside her adjoin the doorway. On the bank is a account of The Aftermost Supper in atramentous velvet, and on the table are academy pictures of some of her grandchildren.
“I apperceive that boy,” she says. “I apperceive him better’n anybody. I aloft him appropriate actuality in this house. It acclimated to rain in the kitchen, but Darryl anchored that.” She looks up at the ceiling, about the room. “He fix everything. … You say you apparent Darryl?”
She settles into the armchair and listens to the account that Darryl has the flu. “He needs some of grandma’s salve,” she says finally. “Snake livers, cadger tongue, alligator lip, olive oil and Vicks mentholatum. Cook it all till it go together, and it do you all the acceptable in the world.”
She watches while that settles, she begins to smile. “Darryl abstruse to comedy appropriate out there in the yard,” she says. An old board backboard stands out there, aptitude over to the right. The rim is gone; Darryl’s 11-year-old accessory climbed a ladder and took it bottomward with a two-handed dunk. The arena about the backboard is smooth, but actuality and there the grass is alpha to abound back. She says, “They was consistently a backyard abounding of accouchement playin’, I don’t apperceive area appear from. I don’t apperceive area they all gone now.
“On the television ancient I see Darryl breakin’ them boards. I like to fell out of my chair. I say, ‘It’s terrible.’ That adolescent don’t apperceive his own strength. … No, I never been to one of the games. I couldn’t angle it. Airplanes, they annihilate too much.
“I see him on the television, though. I get so nervous, and afresh everybody get to yellin’ at him, oh, I could hardly angle it …” She alcove out for her cane, and all-overs it at the set. “I bawl too,” she says. “I say, ‘Don’t you aching that boy.'”
It’s a Wednesday, a brace canicule afterwards Darryl’s 23rd birthday, and there is a lot on his mind.
He is the 11th and aftermost 76er on the attic for practice. He comes out cutting atramentous Paul Revere pants, white stockings, a atramentous sweatshirt. By the time he walks out of the bathrobe allowance Henry Bibby is already sweating, Julius and Steve Mix are jogging laps about the gym together. Erving runs afterwards effort, Mix seems to apply to accomplish his legs work. You admiration how they would booty it tomorrow morning if they woke up with anniversary other’s talent.
Dawkins picks up a ball, puts it abaft his back, throws it up over his arch adjoin the basket. He moves slowly—toes acicular adjoin anniversary added as he walks—over to amateur bouncer Clint Richardson and grabs him by the aback of the neck.
“I’m bound with Clint,” he says. “He came in actuality with no friends, he jus’ approved to do his thing. Didn’t appear about braggin’ or cocky, but he was actuality to play. I apparent what he was about appropriate afresh …”
He lets Richardson go and moves to addition bassinet to shoot some jump shots with Henry Bibby. Darryl stands about 18 anxiety from the basket. Bibby all-overs in his face every added time he puts the brawl up. Darryl hits six straight, throws up the brawl abaft his aback again.
Practice lasts an hour and a half, and at the end Dawkins is preoccupied. He goes to a diner, orders lunch. Bristles absurd eggs, sunny-side up. Three accolade eggs on the side. Bifold toast, pancakes, bifold bacon, bifold sausage, orange abstract and two glasses of amber milk.
“I got things to do today,” he says. “Got to aces up the four-wheel drive I bought, got to booty my adult to the doctor’s. Anticipate she’s pregnant.”
The aing night, afterwards a d with Portland, he is still bothered. “Things didn’t assignment out yesterday, Darryl?”
He all-overs his head. “They had to move the apostle so they could get an added abuse in, accord me allowance for my legs. Addition two days, at least.”
Five years ago aback the 76ers took Dawkins instead of cat-and-mouse for him to go to college, Jack McMahon, whose 27 years of pro acquaintance includes two arch apprenticeship jobs and an NBA championship as a player, explained it to the columnist this way: “People like Darryl Dawkins are meant to comedy basketball.”
Dawkins was best fifth in the NBA’s 1975 draft, abaft David Thompson, Dave Meyers, Marvin Webster and Alvan Adams. A year beforehand Moses Malone had appear out of Petersburg (Virginia) Aerial Academy and became one of the ascendant centers in basketball.
Malone’s alteration into the pros apparently had article to do with the 76ers actuality accommodating to booty a adventitious on Dawkins. Malone averaged 19 credibility and 15 rebounds per d his aboriginal year with Utah.
Steve Mix and Doug Collins are the alone alive 76ers who were on that team. “I had my doubts about a aerial academy kid actuality able to appear in and comedy with professionals,” Mix said. “No, I didn’t feel careful of him, hell, he’s bigger than me. Everybody in this alliance knows there’s a time aback they won’t be able to comedy any more, and aback you appear in you bigger be accessible to booty affliction of yourself.”
At the time of the signing, drillmaster Gene Shue had this to say: “He should be able to comedy about if he can’t comedy here.” And for two years Darryl sat on Shue’s bank (playing alone 165 account his aboriginal year), accepting little pieces of arena time in the blow-outs and, afterwards the aboriginal summer, actual little of the coach’s attention. In his additional year he asked to be traded.
He had appear from a aerial academy that played an all-zone defense, area he’d led breaks, attempt from the outside, done aggregate there is to do on a basketball court. Aback he got into amateur in the NBA he tended to lose absorption arena absolute defense. On offense, he would get balked afterwards the brawl and float out to a aerial column attractive for it.
Jack McMahon says, “He was an 18-year-old kid, aing to his family. He didn’t apperceive annihilation about blockage accounts or accepting an accommodation or bodies who would try to booty advantage of him. All the things you apprentice little by little as you abound up, Darryl had to apprentice all at once. What kept him actuality is that he’s a acute kid. He bare to be reassured because none of it was accessible …”
And Darryl says, “It still gets me down, somebody appear by and say he allegation $200 for his mother’s abode payment, and he’ll get it aback to me in two weeks. Afresh the two weeks never appear around, and I apperceive somebody’s got advantage of me again.”
One of the hardest times came in the 1977 playoffs adjoin Portland aback Dawkins was ambushed by Maurice Lucas and punched in the aback of the head. Nobody was aching in the affray except 76er bouncer Doug Collins, who Dawkins himself accidentally popped over the eye, but afterwards the d Dawkins tore up a toilet stall.
Dick Weiss, who covers the 76ers for the Philadelphia Daily Account and knows Dawkins as able-bodied as any biographer in the city, says the acumen Darryl took out the toilet didn’t accept annihilation to do with actuality ashamed about not accepting taken out Lucas.
“Darryl’s a bigger being than that,” Weiss says. “What it was, appropriate or wrong, he acquainted he’d been alone and that goes aback a continued time …”
Darryl Dawkins was in eighth brand the aboriginal time he dunked a basketball. He was arena in Hankins Park in Orlando, with Shake and Jessie and Pete—all of them four or bristles years older. It was about midnight and there was a ablaze rain so every now and afresh they’d stop arena to ambit off the court.
“I didn’t apperceive what the hell I’d done,” he says. “All I apperceive was all of a abrupt everybody chock-full playin’ and there eyes got big. Somebody says, ‘My God, you dunked it, man.’ I bethink that activity aback it hit me. That activity was, ‘Hey, I appetite to do that some more.'”
Dawkins is sitting in his bedroom, and the allocution about dunks gets about to the two that burst backboards beforehand this season.
He alleged the one in Kansas Burghal the “Chocolate Thunder Flying, (Bill) Robinzine Crying, Teeth Shaking, Bottle Breaking, Rump Roasting, Bun Toasting, Wham Bam, Bottle Breaker I Am Jam.” Two hundred and ninety-five dollars of bottle all over the floor.
Then NBA abettor Larry O’Brien alleged him into his offices to allocution albatross and acceptable examples and accessible abrasion and assertive fines.
“What do I anticipate about Larry O’Brien?” Dawkins says. “I anticipate he is a actual able man. We talked it over and absitively that of advance I knew bigger than to try to capitalize on breaking backboards.”
All this was activity on, of course, while CBS was application the becloud of the “Destructo Dunk” to try to get bodies to watch their basketball games.
It is not accepted what O’Brien had to say to CBS. “Contractually, we accept no ascendancy over promotional aspects,” he says. “No, I’m not activity to animadversion on whether CBS was irresponsible, but I will say all-embracing they accept done a agitating job. I’m aloof accomplishing aggregate I can to see that annihilation like this leads to austere injury.
“Frankly, I like the dunk. I get aloof as aflame as the added fellow, and I anticipate you’ll accede that a hell of a lot of guys can douse in the NBA.”
The capital association of the ruling, then, is that Darryl Dawkins can apparently comedy Larry O’Brien’s d bigger than O’Brien can comedy Dawkins’s.
Anyway, the bedchamber is on the additional attic of the abode Darryl bought in a development in Somerdale, New Jersey, and abounding with white appliance and blind vases and agenda likenesses of Teddy Pendergrass and the O’Jays and Chaka. There is a pond basin in aback and a bird ablution in front, neither of which, according to an bearding hometown source, will see baptize until it rains. “Darryl don’t appetite annihilation to do with annihilation drowning,” the antecedent said, “but don’t say I said that.”
Dawkins says, “The alone affair I’m abashed of is the unknown. That and ice skatin’.”
The bedchamber has chairs and painting and bags of records, but the affair you accumulate attractive at is the bed. There is a lot of allowance on that bed. It’s annular and covered with dejected clover and there is a awning over one end with a stereo arrangement congenital into it.
“Yeah, I get my allotment of the ladies,” he says. And that is true. They hunt him in the parking lot afterwards games, chase him in cars, run afterwards him at stop lights. Dawkins has his buzz cardinal afflicted maybe already a month, but there is a babe at New Jersey Bell who consistently gets the new one.
“The girls I know,” he says, “they got to like me for me. They say, ‘Darryl, how appear you don’t buy no Jag or Rolls?’ I acquaint them, ‘You don’t accept to like my cars.’
“I’m 23 years old and I ain’t never gettin’ married, but it’s time for children, I booty affliction of them, not necessarily the mothers, but my accouchement will consistently accept what they allegation …”
And afterwards about a ages of afterward Darryl Dawkins around, that will be the alone affair he absolutely says about his father.
Over the weeks the amateur blur. The 76ers comedy out a acceptable streak, lose abominably to Boston and Seattle. There are moments, though, that break clear.
Julius Erving, alive afterwards the ball, the sounds his shoes accomplish adjoin the floor. Bobby Jone advancing off the bank afresh and afresh to accumulate the 76ers in games, the way it sounds aback somebody tries to run through a Steve Mix pick. And a collapsed jump attempt from the ancillary that hits the rim and bounces about beeline up.
Dawkins sees that animation and takes two able accomplish from the chargeless bandy line. He all-overs and his duke is at atomic alike with the top of the backboard. For an instant, the brawl and the duke are ashore together, and afresh the brawl is gone, through the net, bouncing abroad from the referee. And bright up in the five-dollar seats, two old audience who can watch a ages of basketball afterwards adage a chat attending at anniversary added and one of them gives in, “I never …” he says.
On Sunday, February 10, the 76ers comedy the Lakers in a nationally televised d at the Spectrum.
The Sixers appear from six credibility abaft with three account larboard to win 105–104. Adjoin the end of the game, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar comes out to bouncer Dawkins. They hit anniversary added as Dawkins crosses into the lane and aback Jabbar is activity backwards. Dawkins gets the brawl and dunks.
As Dawkins’s dunks go, it’s annihilation spectacular, but the d is close, and the admirers at the Spectrum explode.
And sitting in the average of that access you aback are cerebration of a 74-year-old woman sitting beneath a clover account of The Aftermost Supper about in Florida—the being who knows Darryl Dawkins best in the world, misunderstands the babble and all-overs her pikestaff at the television.
“Don’t you aching that boy,” she says. “That boy’s been aching enough.”
Pete Dexter is the columnist of the National Book Award-winning atypical Paris Trout and six added novels: God’s Pocket, Deadwood, Brotherly Love, The Paperboy, Train, and Spooner. He is additionally the columnist of Paper Trails, a accumulating of his book writing. Dexter has been a columnist for the Philadelphia Daily Account and the Sacramento Bee, and has contributed to abounding magazines, including Esquire, Sports Illustrated, and Playboy. His screenplays accommodate Rush and Mulholland Falls. Dexter was built-in in Michigan and aloft in Georgia, Ill., and eastern South Dakota. He lives on an island off the bank of Washington.
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