The dunk is one of the most exciting plays in sports. Combine that with shattered glass and bent rims and the crowd will go crazy. But shattered backboards can be a real problem. These stunts have caused basketball games to be canceled or delayed, serious injuries to occur, and expensive cleanup and replacement. Generally, they are caused by a lack of maintenance on the basketball unit. In fact, the very first backboard that broke wasn’t even caused from a dunk, but because they had failed to put a protective piece between the rim and backboard. Gymnasium equipment inspections are an important element to prevent any major breaks from happening. However, the following examples are the fun side of glass backboards breaking.
Chuck Connors of the Boston Celtics was the very first player to ever bring down a backboard. Ever since this first shattering of a glass backboard, a little over 72 years ago, players have brought down plenty of breakaway rims. Connors shattered the first backboard in NBA history with a shot during warmups before the game. While you think about all the reasons you do not want this happening in your gym, let’s take a look at the 10 best dunks that made it rain glass on the basketball court.
- Chris Morris. The game was the New Jersey Nets against the Chicago Bulls. The Nets forward, Chuck Morris, took a beautiful blind pass from Tate George and didn’t shatter, but splintered the backboard with a two-handed jam. It looked like a spider web. The crowd went absolutely wild when they heard the glass break.
- Bryant “Big Country” Reeves. This next one happened during a practice before the NCAA tournament in 1995. At Oklahoma State’s first practice, the Cowboy’s were doing a drill where they were taking a pass off the backboard and trying to dunk it. Reeves decided to reverse it and brought the entire backboard down with him. This shatter was so epic, his teammates had to pull pieces of glass out of his neck afterwards.
- Theodore “Blue” Edwards. During a Midnight Madness event in 1994 at East Carolina, Theodore Edwards shattered a backboard. Even though this wasn’t during a game or with anyone standing in his way, it was still pretty impressive to watch. Edwards had incredible dunking ability and was invited to many slam dunk contests in his career, but people will always remember this memorable dunk.
- Darvin Ham. During a 1996 NCAA tournament game between Texas Tech and North Carolina, Darvin grabbed a rebound off a missed layup and took down the backboard with a two-handed dunk. The slam tied the game up and swung the momentum in his teams’ favor. They went on to win and advanced to the sweet 16.
- Jason Keep. In 2000, Oklahoma State was up by 8 points against Arkansas - Little Rock with 43 seconds left. They needed something big to happen to change the fate of this game. Jason Keep stole the ball which led to a fast breakaway dunk. The power of the dunk and the fact that the defender was holding on to Keep, the backboard couldn’t hold any longer. The crowd went crazy!
- Shaquille O’Neal. In the 1990’s, backboards didn’t stand a chance again Shaq. During his rookie season with the Magic, I’m not sure anyone knew what to do about him. During one game he didn’t break the backboard, he brought the entire unit to the ground. A second basket had to be brought out and the maintenance crew attempted to fix the base. Shaquille O’Neal has broke so many backboards, the NBA had to change the rules.
- Michael Jordan. Did you think Jordan wasn’t going to make the cut? Michael was pretty great at dunking basketballs and it’s become the symbol that represents him long after he finished playing. In 1995, Michael Jordan was playing in a Nike Expedition game in Italy. Jordan flew through the air and brought every last piece of glass down to the floor. Howard White was quoted saying, “The backboard exploded. I’m looking at his eyes, his ears….looking for little bits of glass.”
Darryl Dawkins. Darryl Dawkins became famous for shattering backboards. He is also credited as being the one person to cause the NBA to introduce breakaway rims. He was given the nickname “Chocolate Thunder” and he let everyone know why. During one particular game he destroyed not one, but two backboards. Both dunks were from the same spot on the floor in which he cocked back with two hands and made the backboard shatter.Darryl’s game was all about power and that is one reason people loved watching him play.
- Shaquille O’Neal - again. The NBA thought they were getting much better at preventing dunks from breaking their equipment, until Shaquille O’Neal. Shaq sent another backboard to the garbage dump during a game against the Nets. This time he was lucky not to get hurt as the shot clock came down over top of him.
And #1. Jerome Lane. In 1988, this dunk happens to be one of the most iconic calls in basketball history “Send it in, Jerome!”. Sean Miller swung a pass over to Jerome Lane, who ran a fast break, soared over a defender, and took a monstrous dunk that absolutely wrecked the backboard. This play was featured in ESPN’s “100 Greatest Sports Highlights”.
Now, there’s nothing quite as exciting and thrilling during a close game than to witness a player complete wreck a backboard. It definitely gets your adrenaline up. But as we’ve seen, it can also be dangerous and expensive. Most of these dunks were in the 1990’s and we have definitely made vast improvements to the structure to prevent this from happening. But as you can see, breakaway rim inspections are essential to ensure we have everything in top shape and prevent any injuries on the court. ADP Lemco is the only company that should be hired to inspect breakaway rims. They are the absolute experts in the industry and you can trust them to get the job done right.