Former NBA star Darryl Dawkins has died at age 58. A 6'11" center, Dawkins earned the nickname “Chocolate Thunder” during his playing days for his high-flying, powerful dunks. He famously broke two backboards in 1979, one with with a slam he dubbed the "The Chocolate-Thunder-Flying, Robinzine-Crying, Teeth-Shaking, Glass-Breaking, Rump-Roasting, Bun-Toasting, Wham-Bam, Glass-Breaker-I-Am-Jam." A native of Orlando, Dawkins became the first player drafted to the NBA straight out of high school when he was selected by Philadelphia with the fifth pick of the 1975 draft. He appeared in three NBA Finals with the 76ers. In 14 NBA seasons, Dawkins averaged 12 points, 6.1 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game. His final seasons were plagued by injury.
The Chicago Bulls put together an iconic 1995-96 season behind Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen, producing the NBA’s first 72-win team and taking home the NBA title. Sports Illustrated was there along the way to cover the franchise’s every move, with photos, covers and stories to profile their journey. Here are SI's best photos of the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls.
Kobe Bryant retired as one of the greatest NBA players of all time. In his 20-year NBA career, Kobe was named an All-Star 18 times and is currently third all time on the NBA scoring list. He won five NBA titles, two finals MVPs, one regular season MVP and he was an 11-time All-NBA first team. The leading scorer in Los Angeles Lakers history, Kobe has also led the 2008 and 2012 US Olympic team to gold medals. In his post-playing days, Bryant has become an entertainment mogul. His "Dear Basketball" short feature won an Oscar in March for best Animated Short Film. In celebration of both Bryant’s 40th birthday on Aug. 23, 2018, we present SI's 100 best photos of the "Black Mamba" through the years.
As Kevin Durant — the 2007-08 Rookie of the Year and 2013-14 MVP, four-time NBA scoring champion named to seven consecutive All-Star teams — celebrates his 28th birthday on Sept. 29, 2016, we present SI's best photos of KD through the years.
In 1984, Mario Lemieux was selected by the Pittsburgh Penguins as the top pick in the NHL Draft. Lemieux—which means "the best" in French—later snapped Wayne Gretzky's seven-year hold on the scoring title and eight-year grip on the Hart Trophy (MVP). A Rookie of the Year, six-time NHL scoring leader, three-time MVP and two-time Conn Smythe Trophy winner, "Super Mario" made miraculous comebacks from Hodgkin's disease and multiple back injuries and, as an encore, bought the Penguins and saved the team from bankruptcy in 1999. Lemieux led Pittsburgh to two consecutive Stanley Cups in 1991 and '92. Under his ownership, the Penguins won a third Cup in 2009 and a fourth in 2016. As "Le Magnifique" celebrates his 51st birthday on Oct. 5, 2016, we present SI's best photos of Mario Lemieux.