I doubt anyone grew up in China shoving quarters down NBA Jam arcade machines in the early-mid nineties — one because they didn’t have quarters; two because arcades weren’t really around back then — which to me strikes me as one of the biggest travesties in Chinese basketball history. Some of the best times I ever had as a raging pre-teen basketball fanatic were spent in front of a glowing screen clutching a joystick and mashing three buttons while playing as Hakeem Olajuwon and Kenny Smith against my buddies at the local arcade, the voice of fake Marv Albert yelling “Boomshakalaka!” as I threw down a ferocious 720 helicopter dunk on my opponent’s head.
NBA Jam did different things for different people: Some liked to bomb away from long-range. Others got a kick out of shoving their opponents to the ground knowing they were free from the restraints of a referee. All loved to hear “He’s heating up!” and its follow-up “He’s on fire!” catchphrases that are still ingrained in American pop culture 18 years later.
To me, however, watching the backboard fall to the ground in a hundred digital pieces always ranked as the most satisfying in-game achievement. Though NBA Jam bended reality into fantasy with its bevy of gravity defying dunks, a sense of possibility always existed in a lot of ways. You could be “on fire” while playing in real life, you could make half-court shots, and if you really wanted to, I guess you could toss some fool into the stands, too. Breaking the backboard, though? Even for this blogger, who can say proudly that he’s been dunking since 2007, that’s just bananas.
So when I read last night that NiuBBall’s first ever player interview, James Singleton, wrecked the backboard yesterday in Urumqi at the beginning of practice, naturally I thought of my favorite video game of all time.
Committing malicious violence to a basket is nothing new to him, though. According to Singleton, he’s a repeat offender — this is the third time he’s shattered the backboard from dunking. The first time was during practice while in college at Murray State, the other was during a game while playing professionally in Europe.
“In Italy I broke the whole thing off,” Singleton said last night while talking with NiuBBall.com.
This isn’t the first time he’s done damage to Chinese basketball hoops, either.
“I’ve broken the shot clock that sits on top of the basket twice already this year.”
That led us to the asking the natural follow-up question of, how do you break a shot clock?
“Knocked the power out. A couple of bolts fell out, they had let the rim down to keep it from falling.”
It’s reportedly the only time in CBA history that someone has broken the glass, in-game or in practice. But, Singleton knows he’ll really go down in history if he can do it when it counts. Does that mean he’s going to go all out to tear the rim, which at this point would have to come tonight against Jiangsu in what will likely be the third and final game of their best-of-five semi-finals match-up or in the CBA finals? His surprising answer is trumped only by his even more surprising, albeit probably true, reason.
“To be honest I’d hate to break a rim during a game over here. They might not have a back up.”