Backboard shattering

A backboard shattering (also known as backboard breaking or backboard smash) is an accident or stunt in basketball. It occurs when a player slam dunks the ball with sufficient force to shatter the tempered safety glass of the backboard. The stunt has caused games to be canceled or delayed, incurring a foul for the offending player, serious injuries to occur and expensive costs of cleanup and replacement. Shattering a backboard is extremely dangerous, sending various small pieces of the backboard glass flying over the players, sideline press personnel, referees, and fans. In the National Basketball Association (NBA), shattering a backboard during a game is penalized with a "non-unsportsmanlike" 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.[1]

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.[2] The NBA began using them after Darryl Dawkins shattered two backboards with his slam dunks during the 1979–80 season.[3]

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.[4] 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.[5] 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.[6]

Darryl Dawkins and Shaquille "Shaq" O'Neal became famous for shattering backboards; the former is credited for being the person to cause NBA to introduce breakaway rims, while the latter slam dunked hard enough 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. A technical foul for backboard shattering was also introduced.[1][7]


  1. ^ a b "NBA Official Rulebook: Fouls and Penalties". Retrieved 2020-06-12.
  2. ^ Herzog, Brian (2003). Hoopmania. New York: Rosen. p. 72. ISBN 9780823936977.
  3. ^ Broussard, Chris (15 February 2004). "A Game Played Above the Rim, Above all Else". New York Times. Retrieved 24 April 2011.
  4. ^ Schwartz, Larry. "Rifleman is first to shatter an NBA backboard". ESPN. Archived from the original on 6 November 2012. Retrieved 25 April 2011.
  5. ^ Goldaper, Sam (April 30, 1987). "Gus Johnson, Ex-N.B.A. Star with Baltimore, is Dead at 48". The New York Times.
  6. ^ Pluto, Terry (2007). Loose Balls: The Short, Wild Life of the American Basketball Association. Simon & Schuster. p. 103. ISBN 978-1416540618.
  7. ^ Roberts, Selena (Sep 13, 1993). "New This Year In NBA: Shaq-proof Backboards". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved Apr 25, 2017.