Not too many NBA players can say they dunked on Shaquille O’Neal. If they did, it’s probably safe to say Shaq ended up getting retribution in spectacular fashion. Such is the case with Derrick Coleman.
The former All-Star provided a young O’Neal with some embarrassment with a vicious jam during The Diesel’s rookie season with the Orlando Magic. Little did Coleman know his dunk would prompt Shaq to respond with an astounding feat of strength.
Derrick Coleman dunked on Shaquille O’Neal and taunted him with a finger-wag gesture
Former New Jersey Nets star Derrick Coleman was the No. 1 overall pick in the 1990 NBA Draft. He averaged a double-double of over 18 points and 10 boards and was named Rookie of the Year in his debut season. A couple of seasons later, he was a 20-point scorer.
In other words, Coleman was pretty well established when Shaquille O’Neal came into the NBA in 1992. He tried to let a rookie Shaq know he was top dog during a meeting between the Nets and Orlando Magic in March 1993.
Coleman served up a facial on O’Neal, hammering Shaq with a thunderous left-handed jam. But that wasn’t the only notable part of the highlight-reel dunk. Coleman took a page out of Dikembe Mutombo‘s book, staring The Diesel down and wagging his finger at him. The moment served as the exclamation point on an enormous performance. Coleman finished the contest with 34 points and 15 rebounds, leading New Jersey to a 116-97 win.
Sure, Shaq was just a rookie at the time. But Coleman probably shouldn’t have tugged on Superman’s cape.
Shaq promised to bring down the backboard the next time he played in New Jersey
Shaq was adamant about getting payback on Coleman after being put on a poster. He hatched a plan to show Coleman and the Nets the kind of dominant force he could be.
O’Neal didn’t just rip the backboard off. He brought the whole goal crashing to the floor.
Shaq and the Magic went back to Jersey to play the Nets on April 23, 1993. At one point in the contest, The Diesel made his move. He took one power dribble before going up with two hands, yanking the rim and pulling the basket down with him. O’Neal exerted such force that the shot clock was dislodged, and the basket support crumbled.
No, Shaq didn’t stuff it on Coleman’s head. However, Coleman was in the picture, and he only narrowly avoided the shot clock as the rim crashed to the ground.
Interestingly, this wasn’t even the first time a rookie Shaq destroyed a goal.
O’Neal previously folded an entire basket stanchion
Shaquille O’Neal knew he could “rip” the backboard off against Coleman and the Nets. Why? He already did it once before.
O’Neal and the Magic were in Phoenix for a game against Charles Barkley and the Suns when The Diesel went up for a put-back dunk. He powered it through, only for the entire basket stanchion to fold under itself.
These two jams provided insight into the absurdly dominant force Shaq would become throughout the course of his career. They also changed the game.
The NBA had to reassess equipment and reinforce breakaway rims and backboards, primarily because of Shaq’s incredible displays of strength. So, technically, Derrick Coleman also played a role in changing the NBA, though he surely didn’t know it at the time.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.