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Ex-NBA star Darryl Dawkins, aka 'Chocolate Thunder' has died

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Ex-NBA star Darryl Dawkins, aka 'Chocolate Thunder' has died

By TIM REYNOLDS, AP Basketball Writer

Darryl Dawkins, whose board-shattering dunks earned him the moniker "Chocolate Thunder" and helped pave the way for breakaway rims, has died. He was 58.

The Lehigh County, Pennsylvania coroner's office said Dawkins died Thursday morning at a hospital. Later Thursday, Dawkins' family said a heart attack was the cause of death. Officials said an autopsy was scheduled for Friday.

"Darryl touched the hearts and spirits of so many with his big smile and personality, ferocious dunks, but more than anything, his huge, loving heart," his family said in a statement. "His family, wife Janice, children Dara, Tabitha, Nicholas and Alexis, along with countless family, friends, and fans, all mourn his loss. More than anything Darryl accomplished in his basketball career as the inimitable `Chocolate Thunder,' he was most proud of his role and responsibility as a husband and father."

Dawkins spent parts of 14 seasons in the NBA with Philadelphia, New Jersey, Utah and Detroit. He averaged 12 points and 6.1 rebounds in 726 career regular-season games.

"A great man, entertainer, athlete and ferocious dunker," former NBA guard Kevin Johnson wrote on Twitter. "He will be missed but not forgotten."

He was selected No. 5 in the 1975 NBA draft by the 76ers. His "Chocolate Thunder" nickname, he often said, was given to him by legendary singer Stevie Wonder -- who is blind.

"People don't want to believe it. ... A guy who never saw me gave me the name Chocolate Thunder," Dawkins said in a 2012 interview.

Tributes poured in quickly from across the league, including from the 76ers.

"Simply put, Darryl Dawkins was beloved-by his family, friends, former teammates and his fans all over the globe," 76ers CEO Scott O'Neil said. "His endearing charm, infectious smile and unparalleled sense of humor will be sorely missed. `Chocolate Thunder' will always have a special place in our hearts. His family is in our thoughts and prayers."

Dawkins was as revered off the court as he was on it. He remained enormously popular after his playing days were done, even during his stint as a member of the Harlem Globetrotters. He would name his dunks -- the "look out below," the "yo-mama" and the "rim wrecker" among them -- and often boasted that he hailed from the "Planet Lovetron."

Injuries plagued him late in his NBA career, and he went overseas for several more years to play primarily in the Italian league.

"You were one of my favorite players of all time," Houston center Dwight Howard posted Thursday on Instagram under a photo of Dawkins dunking in a game for the 76ers. "You were very inspirational to a lot of young players. Thank u for the long talks and great memories. I can't believe that you're gone. But you are in a better place. You were the originator of the dunk."

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2017-18 Wizards roster review: Tim Frazier

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2017-18 Wizards roster review: Tim Frazier

To wrap up the 2017-18 season, we are looking at each player on the Wizards' roster. Today, we evaluate Tim Frazier's season...

Player: Tim Frazier

Position: Point guard

Age: 27

2017-18 salary: $2 million

2017-18 stats: 59 G, 14.2 mpg, 3.0 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 3.3 apg, 0.8 spg, 0.1 bpg, 39.5 FG%, 30.4 3P%, 76.7 FT%, 44.5 eFG%, 105 ORtg, 107 DRtg

Best game: 1/27 at Hawks - 4 points, 14 assists, 3 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 blocks, 2-for-5 FG

Season review: The Wizards tabbed Tim Frazier to be their backup point guard nearly a year ago when they sent a second round pick to the New Orleans Pelicans on the eve of draft night. They viewed Frazier as the solution to their years-long search for a capable backup behind John Wall. Frazier had thrived as a replacement starter in New Orleans and the Wizards saw him as worth a draft pick, even though he had just one year left on his contract.

Frazier began the season as the primary backup point guard, but ultimately lost the job to Tomas Satoransky once Wall went out with a left knee injury. Frazier became the starter and Satoransky the backup, but through two weeks Satoransky outplayed him and became No. 2 on the depth chart once Wall returned. Then, when Wall went down for months late in the season, Satoransky started and Frazier backed him up.

Frazier never found consistency as he moved back and forth between roles. His minutes, points and assists averages were all career-lows.

The Wizards added competition to their roster for Frazier and Satoransky midseason, first by signing Ramon Sessions in March and then adding Ty Lawson just before the playoffs began. That led to Frazier being inactive for four of the Wizards' six postseason games.

All in all, it was a frustrating year for Frazier. He even had to deal with a broken nose and surgery to repair it after getting inadvertently kneed in the face by Bobby Portis in a game against the Bulls in February.

Frazier has been part of small group of Wizards players continuing to work out at the team facility this summer. He has been there along with Wall, Ian Mahinmi and Jason Smith. That said, it does seem likely Frazier returns given how the Wizards used him this season. He was completely out of the rotation for extended periods of time.

Helping his cause in that regard is that the Wizards have his Bird rights, meaning they can re-sign him while going above the salary cap. They currently have five open roster spots and not much money to spend. Frazier could represent a cheap option and help them fill out their roster.

Potential to improve: Shooting, on-ball defense, consistency

More player season reviews:

John Wall, PG

Bradley Beal, SG

Otto Porter, SF

Markieff Morris, PF

Marcin Gortat, C

Kelly Oubre, Jr., SF

Tomas Satoransky, PG

Ian Mahinmi, C

Ty Lawson, PG

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Wizards Tipoff podcast: Markieff Morris goes 1-on-1; no All-NBA votes for Beal?

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Wizards Tipoff podcast: Markieff Morris goes 1-on-1; no All-NBA votes for Beal?

On the latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast presented by Greenberg and Bederman, Chris Miller caught up with Wizards power forward Markieff Morris. Morris looked back on the 2017-18 season and gave his side on what needs to be fixed.

Chris and Chase Hughes also had a heated debate about Bradley Beal not receiving any All-NBA votes. Chase is an awards voter and defended his ballot. Chris wasn't having any of it.

They also went into the conference finals and what it would mean if the Rockets beat the Warriors.

You can listen to the episode right here:

You can download the podcast on Apple Podcasts right here and on Google Play. If you like the show please tell your friends!