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Last night, I watched a 30/30 (which is an ESPN documentary series that I would recommend to anybody) about the Orlando Magic, and one of the focal points of the documentary was Shaquille O'Neal, who was my favorite athlete in the world when I was a lad. If you've never heard of Shaq, he is a 7'1, 300+ lb basketball player. He was a force on the basketball court, for opponents and backboards alike. Throughout the documentary, dozens of clips were shown of Shaq shattering the glass on backboards or pulling down the hoop entirely, all of which occurred during games. This feat cannot be performed anymore because basketball hoops have been redesigned entirely in order to prevent this from happening. On the old hoops, the rim was only attached to the glass backboard, so if you could snap this off by applying enough downward force to it, you would shatter the backboard. This is something Shaq accomplished quite a few times. On the new hoops, the rim is actually attached to the beam holding the hoop up, so you would have to apply thousands of pounds of force to cause the rim to snap off and the backboard to shatter. On one dunk in particular, Shaq literally pulled the entire hoop down. The backboard did not shatter, but he pulled the entire hoop down. Shaq applied (estimated) over 1000 lbs of force (4450 N) in order to accomplish this feat. He admits that he did this on purpose in the documentary. 

This feat is one that will never be replicated by a mortal, but it is fun to look back and see what such a massive individual was able to accomplish during a much simpler time.


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