A backboard shattering is an accident or stunt in basketball. It occurs when a player slam dunks the ball hard enough to break the 1/2" tempered safety glass of the backboard. The stunt has caused games to be canceled or delayed, serious injuries to occur and expensive costs of cleanup and replacement. Shattering a backboard is extremely dangerous, sending shards of glass flying over the players and fans. In the National Basketball Association (NBA), shattering a backboard during a game is penalized with a non-unsportsmanlike conduct technical foul and a possible fine towards the player. The player may not be ejected, nor shall the foul count towards a player's total towards either ejection or suspension.
Backboard shattering has altered the game in many different ways. In 1967, the dunk was banned in high school and college basketball. The rule-makers claimed the dunk was outlawed to prevent injury and equipment damage. After multiple issues with the new rule, nine years later they allowed the slam dunk to be legal again due to the invention of the breakaway rim. The NBA began using them after Darryl Dawkins shattered two backboards with his slam dunks during the 1979–80 season.
Throughout the history of basketball there have always been athletes with the size and strength to slam dunk the ball through the rim. However, the first NBA player to shatter a backboard, Chuck Connors (who would become far more famous as an actor), did not do so with a dunk. When playing for the Boston Celtics in 1946, Connors took a set shot during pregame warmups, hitting the front of the rim. Because an arena worker had failed to place a protective piece between the rim and backboard, the backboard shattered. All-star power forward Gus Johnson of the Baltimore Bullets became famous as a backboard breaker in the NBA, shattering three during his career in the 1960s and early 1970s. In the American Basketball Association (ABA), Charlie Hentz shattered two backboards in the same game on November 6, 1970, resulting in the game being cancelled.
Darryl Dawkins became famous for shattering backboards, and is credited for being the one person to cause the NBA to introduce breakaway rims. Shaquille O'Neal slam dunked so hard that he broke the supports holding two backboards during games against the New Jersey Nets and the Phoenix Suns during the 1992–93 NBA season. Following the 1992–93 season, the NBA increased steel brace strength and increased stability of the backboard to prevent the hoop from falling down. The aforementioned technical foul was also introduced at the time.
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