Retired NBA center: When I played in Italy I didn’t imagine Spanish, Turk or Italian could play in NBA


dawkins-interviewRetired NBA center Darryl Dawkins spoke to local journalists during his visit to Spain, as part of “NBA Cares” program, which hosted basketball clinic there for 100 local children, SoloBasket reported.

On October 6, NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers faced the Bilbao Basket in Spain as part of the “Global NBA Games”, a game that was attended by some 12,000 people.

Along with the 76ers team, former players that have played for Sixers – Dikembe Mutombo and Darryl Dawkins have also arrived to meet the fans and sign autographs. Mutombo and Dawkins came with the Sixers as part of “NBA Cares” program. Dawkins in particular, spoke kindly to the local media and answered some questions in the interview.

“The fans have to enjoy and have fun when they pay for a ticket,” Dawkins said. “This is a business, but when you step on the court, and you don’t enjoy it – you better go home.

When asked whether he enjoys working with children within the NBA Cares program, Dawkins was quick to reply. “Of course, it’s fun. You see how they start playing, and I remember myself starting the same in my age,” he said.

Further local journalists asked Dawkins about his opinion on NBA Global Games and in general about globalization of NBA basketball.

“Many years ago when I played in Italy I did not imagine that a Spanish player, a Turk or an Italian could play in the NBA,” Dawkins said. “But the level of basketball has improved so much that it is important to look around the world and if you have the required level the NBA will give you a chance. Just take a look at Hedo Turkoglu, Gasol brothers or Tony Parker.”

img_2959Speaking of himself and Dikembe Mutombo, Dawkins said the league and basketball itself changed a lot over the years, adding that “there are no more big guys with powerful bodies”.

Speaking about the current Sixers team, Dawkins noted that “it is going to take a while to get where they want, as they’re rebuilding”.

“But do not underestimate them, they need some time to settle,” Dawkins said.

Further when asked about how his life is going on now that he has long retired from the NBA, Dawkins responded with some laughs.

“I get up, take kids to school…no, I spend my days doing Zumba (fashionable aerobic exercise in USA), with women, moving your body around (laughs).”

Dawkins went on to add that he still plays basketball, however only with those of his own age. “I don’t play with 20-year olds, they would kill me!,” he laughed.

The journalists reminded him of the days when he broke two boards with his powerful dunks.

“Like everything I did, it was fun. It was awful and I enjoyed it, because this is basketball,” Dawkins said, adding that he’s still able to crush some boards, but only once or twice a year, as a “reminder” of long-gone days.

Dawkins played 14 seasons in the NBA, 7 of them with Philadelphia 76ers. Dawkins averaged career high 16.8 ppg during the 1983-84 season. It should also be noted that Dawkins led the NBA in personal fouls 3 times during his career.

He retired after playing for 76ers, New Jersey Nets, Utah Jazz, and Detroit Pistons after the 1988-1989 season, averaging 12.0 ppg, 6.1 rpg in 23.7 mpg, playing in 726 NBA games.

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