Dr. Dunk's New Ride
This article was first published November 27, 2017
Former NBA and ABA Standout Darnell “Dr. Dunk” Hillman New SRAM Ambassador
SRAM is proud to add “Dr. Dunk” to its roster. Former NBA and ABA legend Darnell Hillman, nicknamed Dr. Dunk for his acrobatic dunks in the 1970s, is the first participant in the new SRAM ambassadors program.
The purpose is to engage retired professional athletes with cycling as a means of training, rehabiltation, fitness, and overall wellness. Professional athletes inspire us with their skills and determination. Yet by the end of their careers, many pros sustain significant wear and tear to their joints or other injuries. The same thing happens to many recreational athletes. Cycling offers an effective outlet for athletes of all stripes to fulfill their need for physical challenge, adventure, and competition (even if it’s just measuring against one’s self).
A towering figure at 6-foot-9, Darnell Hillman excelled as a center and power forward with a flair for high-flying dunks and tough defense in a career with the Indiana Pacers, New Jersey Nets, Denver Nuggets and Golden State Warriors. His accolades include winning the 1977 NBA Slam-Dunk contest and in 1997 received the Best Afro award at the ABA players union. Hillman, 68, remains active in his role as the Pacers Director of Camps and Clinics and Alumni Relations.
Hillman, who cleared 7 feet in the high jump as a track athlete at San Jose State, remains trim, not far off his playing weight. In the 1970s while on the Pacers, Hillman would sometimes ride his bike to stay in shape close to the site where SRAM and Zipp’s Indianapolis’ facility now sits. Now, decades later, he’s ready for a new cycling challenge.
“Cycling is a new challenge for me. I’ve worked hard to stay in shape, since I like to kneel down on the court to talk eye to eye with the kids during basketball camps. I also still have that competitive drive,” Hillman said. “Often I’ve seen group bike rides pass by and thought it looked like great fun and camaraderie. I look forward to riding my new SRAM and Zipp-equipped road bike.”
Scientific studies confirm what many cyclists discover for themselves—riding a bike is healthy. A primary advantage of cycling, especially for those with a history of injuries, is that it minimizes impact forces on the hips, knees, and ankles, according to A. Lynn Millar, PhD, MSPT, FACSM, who is a fellow of the Indianapolis-based American College of Sports Medicine. What’s more, a study of 264,377 participants (average age of 53) published this year in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found commuting by bicycle is associated with “a substantial decrease in the risk of death from all causes, cancer and cardiovascular disease (CVD), compared with non-active commuting by car or public transport.”
About Dr. Dunk's Bike
A 6-foot-9 rider needs a purpose-built bike. Hillman’s bike is a 64cm frame is outfitted for comfort, simplicity, and adventure:
- SRAM Force 1 with HRD hydraulic disc brakes.
- Zipp 303 Firecrest Carbon Clincher Disc brake wheels.
- Zipp Service Course SL-80 handlebars, 46cm wide.
- Zipp Service Course SL stem, 140mm long.
- Zipp SL Speed seatpost, 400mm long.
- Zipp Tangente Course R30 tires, 30mm wide.
- Zipp Service Course CX bar tape.
The bike build is tailored to fitness and recreation riding on a high-performance bike that’s also comfortable and efficient while also fitting Hillman’s 6-foot-9 height and long reach. Equipment choices were designed to make cycling more accessible to someone who hasn’t had that as their primary sport for a large portion of their lives. Hydraulic disc brakes were used for effective speed modulation and stopping power but also to accommodate wide tires. The 44-tooth front ring of the Force 1 drivetrain paired with an 11-42 cassette provides a wide range for various terrain and speeds with the simplicity of a single-ring setup.
Watch the SRAM and Zipp news blogs for updates on the new SRAM ambassador program.