10 Best Backboard-Shattering Dunks from the NBA and College
The dunk may be the most exciting play in sports.
It combines grace and power, flight and physical artistry.
Combine that with shattering glass and bent rims, and you set a crowd on fire every time.
Gus Johnson of the Baltimore Bullets was famous for breaking backboards with ferocious dunks, as was Darryl Dawkins.
A number of backboards suffered from Shaq attacks until the NBA replaced the goals with ones that even Dwight Howard couldn’t break.
It's unlikely, then, that we'll see a repeat of any of these dunks in the NBA. The following videos are destined to become treasured relics.
Consider this dunk an amuse bouche for your eyes.
Building up momentum from a trampoline jump and full forward flip, Boomer, the Indiana Pacers' mascot, annihilated a high school’s backboard during halftime.
If the big blue cat is headed to your school for a halftime show, you may want to reinforce the rim.
Otherwise, the second half of the game may be a little one-sided.
10. Chris Morris
A nice no-look pass by Tate George leads to a Chris Morris power dunk that splinters, but doesn’t shatter, the backboard.
The Jersey crowd eats it up anyway.
In the video, you can hear the announcers compare Morris’ jam to one where Shaq destroyed the backboard. There is really no comparison, though.
Dunk enthusiasts will salivate at this two-hander, but it won’t satiate their hunger.
9. Bryant Reeves
Unless you were a Vancouver Grizzlies fan or Oklahoma State alumnus, you may have forgotten all about Bryant “Big Country” Reeves.
In the middle of a practice during the ’95 NCAA tourney, Reeves delivered a casual reverse jam that shattered the backboard.
He looks a bit bewildered afterwards, as if he can’t believe he did it.
The big man would throw down several dunks in the NBA, but never live up to his first-round draft status.
See the dunk at 0:55 in the video.
8. Blue Edwards
Flying in from just outside the paint, Theodore “Blue” Edwards ripped this rim off during a Midnight Madness event.
The East Carolina swingman slides on his behind among shards of glass, throwing up an impromptu victory pose.
It’s important not to forget to have fun.
Although his flight is graceful and the dunk is thunderous, it would be far more impressive if there were defenders anywhere near him.
7. Jason Keep
With 43 seconds left to play, Arkansas-Little Rock was down eight. They needed something big to happen to change their fate.
Unfortunately, Jason Keep made the big play go the other way.
The big Oklahoma State forward stole a pass before sending a dunk down strong. Both the backboard and the crowd exploded.
The defender hung onto him, adding weight that the rim just could not hold.
Ahmad Rashad, host of NBA Inside Stuff, wanted to see what this Shaquille O’Neal hype was all about. Just who was this big kid from LSU anyway?
Shaq blows by him and lands a two-handed stuff.
Soon, the rim, Shaq and nuggets of glass lie on the court.
This was just a prelude to the Shaq attacks we would see in his NBA career.
Rashad makes TV magic out of the moment with the hilarious line, “Is that all you got?”
5. Darvin Ham
During the 1996 NCAA tournament, Texas Tech was going back and forth against the UNC Tar Heels. Someone needed to make a big play to swing the momentum one way or another.
Darvin Ham delivered.
He snagged a loose rebound and destroyed the backboard with a two-handed beast of a dunk.
The basket tied the game and energized the Red Raiders, propelling them to a big win and on to the Sweet 16.
Ham’s big-time dunk landed him on the cover of Sports Illustrated.
4. Michael Jordan
In 1985, fans in Trieste, Italy got an up-close view of a dangerous Air Jordan flight.
Two of Jordan’s 30 points in this Nike exhibition game came from a gorgeous one-handed dunk.
Every inch of the backboard is yanked out and turned into a shower of glass.
At least the dudes who got dunked on and cut up by backboard fragments can tell their grandkids that they played against the best basketball player ever.
3. Jerome Lane
“Send it in, Jerome!”
Even all these years later, this dunk still looks magnificent. It’s hard not to watch at least three or four times.
The ’88 Pitt Panthers ran the fast break against Providence.
Sean Miller swung a pass over to Jerome Lane, who wrecked the rim with a monstrous dunk. The rim hung like a dead animal as glass rained over it.
Not surprisingly, this play was put on ESPN’s “100 Greatest Sports Highlights."
2. Darryl Dawkins
LeBron James and Blake Griffin may be making the highlight reel with throwdowns now, but Darryl Dawkins is the most powerful dunker of all time.
The video offers a double dose of awe-inspiring power.
The "Thunder" part of his nickname, "Chocolate Thunder," came from dunks like these.
It was Dawkins’ complete demolition of rims and backboards that forced the NBA to begin using breakaway rims.
The debris left in his wake looks like the result of a bomb.
1. Shaq II
The NBA thought they’d solved the problem of dunks destroying their equipment until Shaquille O’Neal began playing for the Magic in 1992.
The Diesel was a monster in the paint.
In this game against the Nets, he not only tears down the rim, but the entire backboard. The shot clock crashes into him.
How intimidating would it be to try to guard him just a few moments later?
Later, Shaq dealt out damage to a backboard in Phoenix.