If you’re a big Shaq fan (and if you’re not, why are you here?), you probably have this moment burned into your NBA all-time great moments memory bank: Shaq literally pulling down the entire basket – hoop, stand and foundation – all in one giant dunk.
It came in the early days back in Orlando. O’Neal’s rookie year, in fact…1993. At that time, Shaq hadn’t yet reached his full size and power, yet his incredible skill and natural talents were already well on display.
Sure…back in the day, there were other big, strong players that pulled off a few jaw-dropping moments similar to this one. Breaking off the rim, shattering the glass backboard. Those had been done before. But this was different…even bigger. When Shaq hit the rim with a power dunk against the New Jersey Nets at the old Meadowlands facility, it literally brought the house down. Well, the basket, anyway.
Needless to say, it was a moment that left fans, teammates, coaches and staff… everyone who say it (both on TV and in person) absolutely stunned.
A few former players and sports reporters gathered (virtually) recently for a new ESPN program called “I Love 90s Basketball.” They all had special memories of that exact moment.
“Shaq pulled it down!”, ESPN commentator Michael Wilbon said. “This meant the league had to have extra baskets and stanchions in the building, cause the game would be delayed like an hour!” Indeed, there are videos of area staff having to come out to torch and weld the basket stanchion (the apparatus that holds the backboard and rim) back together so the game could continue.
Former player Paul Pierce chimed in: “We just see rims be taken off the backboard and
glass smash. We ain’t never seen somebody bring down the whole goal post. Like the whole thing!”
Pierce summed it up in one simple sentence: “This is what made people afraid of Shaq.”
This was one strong young man. ESPN reporter David Jacoby said, “The NBA, not just the fans, and not just the players, but the people that run the facilities, the actual hoops themselves, the actual arenas themselves, needed to adjust to the physical presence, that was Shaquille O’Neal.”
Another great line: “It (the goal post) bows down to him, in a way that praises him and he is like young Simba, being held up on the mountaintops. We all must just bow and accept our new king, that is Shaquille O’Neal”