Bill Raftery uttered the words “Send it in, Jerome!” on ESPN on a Monday night in Pittsburgh over two decades ago to describe a dunk that is still in sports fan’s conscience around the country.
Friday marked the 25th anniversary of when Lane, an Akron resident, shattered the glass on a backboard in a men’s college basketball game with a right-handed dunk over Providence 6-foot guard Carlton Screen at Pittsburgh’s Fitzgerald Field House on Jan. 25, 1988.
The iconic dunk by Lane and the iconic call by Raftery were revisited multiple times on ESPN Friday and in print in the New York Times and USA Today.
“First of all, it was unexpected and that was a regular, routine game,” Lane said Friday in Akron. “We were expected to get that win and boost our record on our way to competing for a Big East championship. It was a sudden situation where a 3-on-1 developed with Sean Miller, Demetreus Gore and I. Sean looked to his right and dished me the ball and I dunked it. That dunk is etched in stone and 25 years after, it is still going on strong. It happened on national TV and everybody was watching. If it happened in a game that was not televised, it would probably not be as a popular.”
Lane, now 46, said he was a 6-foot-6 and 235-pound junior at Pitt. His dunk left the lower portion of the backboard shattered, leaving a gaping square glass hole. The rim was dangling, until the Panthers mascot grabbed it and paraded around the arena with it in hand.
Pictures of the dunk can be found on the Internet and videos are available on youtube.com. Raftery, who is now a CBS college basketball announcer, appeared on ESPN’s SportsCenter Friday and told anchor Sara Walsh he gets asked about the dunk “quite a bit.”
“I had never witnessed anything like that,” Raftery said. “I had heard of it. Darryl Dawkins was one, but sitting there and seeing this amazing athletic feat. [It was] unanticipated. Just the reaction and the spontaneity of the team, grabbing and hugging one another [was great]. I mean, he was an instant success and hero with his group and obviously with the audience. I think [announcer] Mike Gorman and I were more stunned than anything. We looked at one another, like this couldn’t happen. I mean, I know he is big and strong, but to take it down like that [was amazing]. Send it in big fella!”
Lane, a 1985 St. Vincent-St. Mary graduate, is currently the Assistant Supervisor at Summit Lake Lake Coummuity Center and an asssistant coach on the Firestone boys varsity basketball team that his son Jerome plays on.
Pitt won the game against Providence, which was delayed for 32 minutes to find a replacement backboard. Lane played professionally from 1988-2000 in the NBA and CBA in the U.S., and in Europe.
When asked if that was his most memorable basketball moment, Lane said: “Hands down, no question. People are still talking about it 25 years later.”
Lane said after he dunked the ball he feared the baseline referee would wave it off.
“I thought he was going to call a charge on me at first, but once he saw the glass shattering onto the court he couldn’t call a foul on me,” Lane said with a laugh.
Lane also appeared on ESPN Friday when he chatted with anchor Karl Ravech, who asked him: “Had you ever broken a rim prior to that?” Lane said: “Never, I always tried though, but never. Every time I go to dunk I try to bring it down with the most force you can to make it collapse.”
Another interview with Lane will appear Saturday on ESPN’s College GameDay at 11 a.m.
Firestone boys basketball coach Dave Milo said he was working in the sports departments at WAKR and Cox Cable back in 1988.
“I remember Gus Johnson broke one and Darryl Dawkins broke one,” Milo said. “That dunk by Jerome was so strong. It was one of those Oh moments, like when you see LeBron James in that one TV commercial watching a kid dunk on his phone. LeBron's has had many dunks like that too. Those powerful dunks like Gus, Darryl and Jerome.”