On January 25, 1988, Pittsburgh forward Jerome Lane threw down one of the college basketball’s most unforgettable dunks. After receiving a pass on the break from point guard Sean Miller, Lane took flight, dunking over Providence guard Carlton Screen and shattering the backboard.
Lane walked away from the scene to high-fives from his teammates, cheers from the Fitzgerald Field House crowd and the rim hanging by a thread.
The Pittsburgh mascot would later parade around the court with the rim, and the game was delayed for more than a half hour as facilities staff found a replacement basket and cleaned up the debris.
But just as memorable was the call of ESPN play-by-play announcer Mike Gorman and color commentator Bill Raftery, who added the four words that many college basketball fans remember to this day as noted in a story by Zach Schonbrun of the New York Times.
“Send it in, Jerome!”
Lane, who is now the director of a youth recreation facility in his hometown of Akron, Ohio, was one of the leaders for a Pittsburgh team that would go on to win 24 games and a Big East regular season title (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette).
Lane caught the ball and elevated above Providence’s 6-foot guard Carlton Screen. The dunk sounded as if a light bulb had popped. When he landed, Lane had no idea that the lower portion of the backboard had shattered, leaving a gaping glass hole squarely in the center of the box. The rim was left dangling by a thread, until the Pitt mascot grabbed it and paraded around the arena with it in hand.
“I didn’t realize anything until I looked at Demetreus,” Lane told ESPN in 2010. “Then I saw glass on the floor. It came down like snow.” For several seconds, the stands were practically silent. “Everybody just kind of gasped,” said Larry Eldridge, then Pitt’s associate athletic director. “Nobody could believe what they were watching.”
The play essentially made two people famous: Lane for the dunk and Raftery for his spontaneous words in reaction to the play.
“It just popped out,” Raftery said in the New York Times story. “There was no preconceived notion for it. I’m sure somewhere along the line I’d heard people say it, maybe.”
Video credit: ESPN