College Basketball Nation: The Oklahoman

Ever wonder why broken backboards don't happen much anymore? Me too. I assumed it had something to do with the ongoing march of ever-sturdier basketball technology, but I know nothing about basketball hoop engineering. Just why are basketball hoops stronger, anyway? And how come Tiny Gallon was able to break a modern hoop when so few others can?

Turns out, Gallon's hoop wasn't a modern hoop. The Oklahoman dug into Gallon's broken backboard and found that the Spokane, Wash. arena where Gallon busted his hoop was using outdated equipment. The explanation:

The 180 Degree rim breaks away to the side and front, but original breakaway rims only do so at the front. The older rims are attached to the glass using a four-corner mount, which uses four bolts attached to the four exterior corners of the rim’s frame. Since the arena in Spokane only hosts a handful of basketball games each year, it did not have an updated, sturdier direct-mount system, which attaches to the goal with two bolts on the top two corners, as well as a large metal beam that’s driven through the glass.

On a direct-mount, any stress from a dunk is distributed through the beam onto the rest of the system. On a four-corner mount, the glass still bears some stress from a dunker. When that stress becomes too severe, it becomes a must-see clip like Gallon produced last week against Gonzaga.

And now you know.

Does anyone else find this information mildly depressing? Gallon's broken backboard could have ushered in a new era -- a brave new world in which athletes had yet again surpassed the strength of modern plexiglass design, a peaceful Pax Backboarda with entertainment and shattered glass for every girl and boy. Instead, Gallon merely found an antique and took advantage when he could; no one can break new backboards, apparently. The shattered backboard is a dying animal, and that makes me sad.

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