(The basket hits Shaq on its way down. Photo courtesy of Associated Press)
4/23/1993 - Shaq brings down backboard
In a 119-116 Orlando victory at New Jersey, Magic guard Nick Anderson scores a career high 50 points. But it's the most irrelevant 50 points of all time, as the real story comes from his teammate: Shaquille O'Neal.
In the second-to-last game of the year, O'Neal went up for a ferocious jam nine minutes into the game. The Orlando rookie had already broken a backboard earlier in the year at Phoenix, though in that instance the basket merely slinked to the floor. Here, O'Neal's dunk ripped the whole thing to the ground, leaving everyone in the arena stunned.
Mike Freeman of the New York Times wrote, "The basket crashed to the floor as if O'Neal had just chopped it with an ax. It fell so fast that O'Neal didn't have time to get out of the way, and the huge 24-second clock on top of the basket hit him in the back. As players from both benches leaped to their feet -- not to mention the 20,049 fans who gave O'Neal a standing ovation -- O'Neal nonchalantly walked away, like he was on his way to the grocery store."
"I just went up and dunked it and it broke," O'Neal said. "It really came crashing down. The shot clock hit me in the head. It hurt a little bit, but not that much. I have a hard head."
The dunk caused a 46-minute delay, as a new basket was installed on the court. The win was an enormous one for the Orlando Magic, who at 40-41 were tied with the Indiana Pacers for the final seed in the playoffs. Orlando beat the Atlanta Hawks on the final day of the year, however the Pacers beat the Miami Heat, and because Indiana had the tiebreaker, they got to go to the postseason. Not making the playoffs proved to be a blessing in disguise for Orlando, who were able to become a lottery team because of it. A month later, Orlando defied all odds and won the No. 1 pick in the draft for the second year -- something that hadn't happened before. They used that pick to draft Chris Webber, who they traded for Penny Hardaway on the same day.