“The Chocolate-Thunder-Flying, Robinzine-Crying, Teeth-Shaking, Glass-Breaking, Rump-Roasting, Bun-Toasting, Wham-Bam, Glass-Breaker-I-Am-Jam.”

Anyone who has not seen the monster dunk by the Los Angeles Clippers Blake Griffin from Tuesday’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder must not be watching much television.

It was a right hand slam over Kendrick Perkins that will be on a poster sometime soon. It was a downright nasty filthy dunk. Yet Perkins had no problems with it saying afterward: “It happens. At the end of the day if you’re a shot blocker, you’re going to get dunked on. It was a great play that he made. Obviously I wish I wasn’t in it, but it was a great play that he made.”

Despite all of the basketball I have watched and dunks I have seen, one of the first dunks that came to mind was of Philadelphia 76ers Darryl Dawkins breaking a backboard against the then Kansas City Kings on Nov. 13, 1979.

The victim of that dunk was NBA journeyman forward Bill Robinzine who ran for cover as glass flew. Dawkins, named his best dunks. That one was called “The Chocolate-Thunder-Flying, Robinzine-Crying, Teeth-Shaking, Glass-Breaking, Rump-Roasting, Bun-Toasting, Wham-Bam, Glass-Breaker-I-Am-Jam.”

The game was delayed as the glass was cleaned up and a new basket and stanchion were brought in. During that era it was rare for a new basket to be needed during a game so the entire process was slow.

Dawkins would break another backboard just three weeks later, this time in a home game against the San Antonio Spurs.

Dawkins stopped throwing down with such authority after NBA Commissioner Larry O’Brien called him into his office and told Dawkins he would be fined and assessed a technical foul if he did not stop breaking backboards.

He stopped. Eventually breakaway rims were invented and on many shattered backboards pretty much became extinct.

Dawkins dunk is easily seen on the Internet. It is amazing to watch. It was the first time I had seen a backboard broken and I watched the game live on television. Is it better than Griffin’s? Hard to say.  With each one you had to see it live to really understand the moment.

Yet whenever I see that particular throwdown by Dawkins, I am reminded of a sad footnote to it. Robinzine, the victim of that dunk, would be dead just 2½ years later. During his seven NBA seasons he averaged 10.5 points and 6.5 rebounds in 21.6 mins per game. He earned $525,000 during his career but in today’s NBA he would be a millionaire many times over.

Apparently despondent over the end of his career Robinzine parked his Oldsmobile Toronado in a Kansas City storage locker, shut the locker’s door, climbed into the car with the windows rolled up and let the car run.

His father was the one who found his son slumped behind the steering wheel. Police ruled his death a suicide by carbon-monoxide asphyxiation. Bill Robinzine was 29 years old. Sept. 30 will mark the 30th anniversary of his death.

 

 

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