At 7’1″ and somewhere in the neighborhood of 325 pounds, Shaquille O’Neal has literally been casting big shadows for decades. And he’s certainly no stranger to casting those figurative shadows either as he was simply one of those players that demanded attention whether he was asking for it or not.
Such an instance occurred back in 1993 during Shaq’s rookie season with the Orlando Magic when he famously yanked down the entire backboard (and shot clock) at Meadowlands Arena against the New Jersey Nets. It’s a memorable moment, right? But so is a 50-point game and most don’t seem to remember that Nick Anderson had such a game that same night…and did it off the bench.
Shaquille O’Neal ripped down the entire backboard against the Nets in 1993
As a rookie in 1992-1993, Shaq provided quite a few highlights for the Magic, consistently showing off both his athleticism and his power. We’re obviously focusing on the power aspect of things here and one of his most powerful moments came in February 1993 in Phoenix against Charles Barkley and the Suns.
In the first quarter of his first nationally-televised appearance on NBC, O’Neal grabbed an offensive rebound and threw down a dunk, which was nothing out of the ordinary. The extraordinary part was how the entire structure tipped forward when he did so. The force of his dunk actually broke a piece of the support system, which caused the entire structure to fold up into a storage position, which caused a 35-minute delay. We’d seen broken backboards before but nothing like this.
Fast forward to April 23, 1993. Shaq and the Magic were playing their second-to-last game of the season and with just over three minutes remaining in the first quarter, O’Neal again caused a delay with a forceful dunk.
But this was something completely different.
This wasn’t a case of a piece of the structure breaking and slowly folding up. This was Shaq obliterating the entire structure…rim, backboard, shot clock, and all. He’s actually lucky he didn’t injure himself as the shot clock actually hit him in the back as it came crashing down.
Nick Anderson scored 50 points off the bench that same night
Nick Anderson was not on the floor when Shaq decimated the backboard as he was sitting on the bench, where he’d been all game up to that point. Two nights earlier, he’d strained a hamstring against the Boston Celtics, a game in which he played just 12 minutes and scored zero points.
Anderson was questionable coming into the matchup with the Nets but was available to play if needed. And Magic head coach Brian Hill obviously felt he was needed as he inserted Anderson into the game not long after the delay caused by Shaq’s dunk.
Anderson hit his first shot of the night and then just kept on hitting them. By the end of the night, the Magic’s first-ever draft pick had played 33 minutes, hit 17 of 25 shots from the floor, four of seven from the 3-point line, and 12 of 12 foul shots (he really did know how to shoot free throws) for a career-high 50 points, leading Orlando to a 119-116 win.
Shaq only scored 10 points that night but took all the attention away from Anderson
Normally, a 50-point game brings a lot of media attention but do you think Nick Anderson got swarmed after his big night? That would be a big “no” as all the attention naturally went to Shaquille O’Neal for what he did to that poor backboard. For the record, Shaq shot 3-for-11 from the floor that night and scored just 10 points.
It’s not as if nobody talked to Anderson afterward as he was quoted as saying that he was “in the zone” and acknowledged his Magic teammates for continuing to feed him the ball. But his 50-point night truly might be the quietest in NBA history, which is a shame seeing as how nobody had ever scored 50 off the bench up to that point. Even now, the only other player to achieve such a feat is Jamal Crawford, who scored 51 off the pine against the Suns on April 9, 2019.
But that’s the Shaq factor for you.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference