In my long career, I have never seen a backboard shattered during a basketball game. On January 27, 1980, I believed my best chance might happen thanks to Darryl Dawkins. On that Sunday in Phoenix, I mounted a camera to shoot through the glass backboard when the Philadelphia 76ers took on the Phoenix Suns.
In my mind, I envisioned Dawkins, a 6-11, 251 pound monster of a man, rising up for one of his thunderous dunks that already led to the destruction of two backboards earlier in the season. My remote camera would capture the glass destruction in a way never seen. Remote cameras were still somewhat rare behind backboards at the time. After setting up everything well before the game, I only had to have Dawkins oblige me with a dunk worthy of the names he applied to his most memorable. My hope was for another “Rim Wrecker.”
Of course, before any of that could happen, I had to live through warm ups. My choice was to set up the camera at the end of the court the Suns used in the first half. Surprisingly, the 76ers elected to flip the norm. Almost immediately, a player pointed directly at the camera setting off a flurry of dunks from not only Dawkins but also Julius Irving, Caldwell Jones and others. The assault put my setup to the test, one thankfully passed.
Best intentions often do not work out. Dawkins never came close to destroying another backboard. The Suns won the game 125-118. My young photographic dreams went unfulfilled that night in Phoenix, but the man who claimed to be from the Planet Lovetron did help me make a very nice photograph of the great Walter Davis driving for a basket. Sadly, news came last week that Dawkins died of a heart attack at only 58.