25 years ago today one of the most memorable moments of Pitt basketball history occurred when Jerome Lane shattered the backboard on a dunk in a game against Providence. The play and announcer Bill Raferty’s call of “Send it in, Jerome” have gone on to become an iconic clip that encapsulates the aggressive spirit that made the Big East the premiere basketball conference in the 1980’s.
A quarter century after the dunk it still carries the luster that many legendary plays often lose over time. Perhaps because it happened in the era of ESPN or perhaps simply because it was so impressive the legend of the play lives on. The iconic image alone is awe inspiring
The New York Times ran a piece on the dunks anniversary today saying,
For years after he tore down a basketball rim with a one-handed dunk on a Monday night in January, Jerome Lane tried to replicate the same achievement just about every time his feet left the floor. He could not do it, of course. The moment — a perfect, inexplicable synthesis of conditions — had come and gone.
Twenty-five years later, Lane’s name remains tethered to the feat, in which he shattered the Plexiglas backboard at Pittsburgh’s Fitzgerald Field House with a fast-break dunk less than five minutes into the first half against Providence on the bitterly cold night of Jan. 25, 1988.
The dunk is a moment every Pitt fan turns to as a top memory of the Panthers basketball program pre Ben Howland. A program that competed in the Big east admirably, producing players like Charles Smith, Darren Morningstar, and Lane himself. While the 2000’s saw the wins the 80’s may have seen the names. Pitt was getting some good recruits and they were beginning to piece together a winning program.
In the video below former Pitt star and current Arizona Head Coach Sean Miller talks about the dunk.
Today Jerome is a father whose son is a top high school football project. In a recent article Jerome Lane Jr. talked about how his fathers dunk is still something brought up any time his name is mentioned aloud.
You could say I hear about it every day,” said the younger Lane, who attended Sunday’s Rivals/VTO Sports Elite 100 camp near Pittsburgh. “I get the questions all the time. ‘Are you the son of Jerome Lane?’ When I say yes, it’s always ‘The Jerome Lane who shattered the backboard?’ I get that a lot.”
His father noted that the dunk is still a major part of his life.
That’s all I’ve become known for,” said Jerome Lane Sr., as he watched his son from the stands Sunday at Gateway High School. “No one remembers my playing days at Pitt or my professional career and I get asked about the dunk every day, pretty much every day. But it’s all fun. It’s better to be known for something good than something bad.”
25 years ago today an event happened that people are still talking about and that is an impressive feat. The glory of basketball, even Pitt basketball, is that at any given moment in any given gym something could happen that changes the way people think about the game. On January 25th, 1988 such an event occurred.