Darryl Dawkins Rumors
Arn Tellem: In high school, Kobe trained with the Philadelphia 76ers. By his senior campaign, the big question was, would Kobe attend a college like La Salle, where Joe was an assistant coach, or turn pro. During the previous three decades, only six U.S. players had joined the NBA without playing college ball, and all of them had been big men: Moses Malone, Darryl Dawkins, Bill Willoughby, Shawn Kemp, Thomas Hamilton and Kevin Garnett. Kobe was a 6-foot-6 guard. I asked Kobe what he wanted to do. He didn’t hesitate. “I’m going to the NBA,” he said. “I want to be the next Michael Jordan.”
The first indication that he had a heart problem came at a screening the NBA Players Association and NBA Retired Players Association began, in the wake of the deaths of Caldwell Jones, who passed in 2014, and former Rockets great Moses Malone and Darryl Dawkins, who passed away within three weeks of each other in 2015. Since the program started, more than 500 players have been screened. As much good as it has done — expanding to an assortment of tests and even orthopedic imaging, and players have been found to have an array of issues that might have gone unnoticed — Catchings said the free testing wasn’t as big of a hit as he thought it would be.
His arrival in Philadelphia was equally as jarring. There to greet him was none other than big man Darryl Dawkins, aptly nicknamed “Chocolate Thunder.” “My very first practice in Philly, he set a pick on me at the top of the key and knocked me out, and when I came to, he was standing over me and he picked me up and said, ‘Welcome to Philly,’ ” Jones recalled. “The very next day he brought me a T-shirt that said ‘White Lightning’ on it just to say sorry for the hit.”
But the greater part of Malone’s legacy might be the way his death raised awareness of the health problems faced by former players, especially big men. Scarcely two weeks before he passed another retired Sixers center, the irrepressible Darryl Dawkins, died. The year before, yet another, Caldwell Jones, succumbed. They died of heart attacks, at ages 58 and 64, respectively. Even before that, the NBA Players Association had plans in the works to conduct health screenings for retired players. But Joe Rogowski, the NBPA’s Director of Sports Medicine and Research, told The Athletic that the passing of guys like Malone “just sort of expedited it a little bit more.”
Six times per year over the last three years, the NBPA has staged these screenings around the country at teams’ arenas and practice facilities. They are free of charge, and Rogowski said more than 500 ex-players have participated. According to an ESPN.com report, these examinations have revealed that 20 percent of those older than 60 had diabetes, more than 30 percent were obese and more than 35 percent of those between 40 and 59 had high blood pressure. They have also saved at least one life. Hall of Fame guard Tiny Archibald — a contemporary of Malone, Jones and Dawkins — was found in 2016 to be in need of a heart transplant, which he has since received.
NBA legend Nate “Tiny” Archibald has been living with an incurable heart disease for more than a year, the 69-year-old retired Hall of Fame player revealed to ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan. Motivated by the recent deaths of peers Moses Malone, Darryl Dawkins and Dwayne “Pearl” Washington as well as health statistics provided by the National Basketball Players Association, Archibald underwent a health screening in December 2016 and was diagnosed with amyloidosis — an as-yet irreversible protein buildup that prevents his heart from properly pumping blood to his body.