Slam-dunks are so common in today’s basketball world. As someone who is vertically challenged, dunks really should be something I appreciate. A lot. However, thanks to the likes of ESPN’s highlight reels of games being filled with video of dunks every night I just do not get excited over the "routine" dunks that are seen multiple times a game. That said, there are slams that even a dunk-spoiled Millennial like me appreciates. It just has to be a special and game-changing dunk. The 1996 NCAA Tournament had one of those, due to the efforts of Red Raider Darvin Ham.
Against the Dean Smith led North Carolina Tar Heels, Texas Tech was looking to advance into the Sweet 16 for the 4th time in the program’s history. It had been a relatively close game until Darvin Ham changed that with one board-breaking moment. Texas Tech had just missed a shot, and Ham came in for the put-back. A young Antawn Jameson did not do a great job of blocking out and Ham came bursting through from behind. As he put the ball in the basket, he tugs the rim forward just enough to bring a rain of glass upon the court. The announcers, crowd, and team begin to go crazy as the Tar Heels (and refs) look dazed by what just occurred. Obviously, there is a break in the game while a new backboard is installed.
After that, Tech uses their newly obtained mojo and cruises to a 19-point win to reach the Sweet 16 and a matchup against Georgetown, where Tech loses by 8. Darvin Ham’s moment was immortalized by the image that was captured and placed on the Sports Illustrated cover (we can't post due to the rights of the photo, but you can find it on Darvin Ham's wikipedia page). For the first, and only, time in Texas Tech men’s basketball history, the Red Raiders graced the cover of Sports Illustrated. Be sure to come to Viva The Matadors on Thursday for the Visual History article and the video of this moment.
As you may have noticed, there was no Texas Tech Visual History this past Thursday. A family-friend passed away. Duane Springfield was a proud Red Raider who received a BA in Parks and Recreation Management in the 1980s. Back to that proud Red Raider part, I always knew he had a huge love for his alma mater, but it was not until his memorial service that I realized just how much he loved Texas Tech University, especially the football squad. There were many mentions of his love of Tech throughout the service, specifically from his friends that did not attend Tech. However, as great of a Red Raider that he was, he was an even better husband and father to his wife (whom he met at Tech), and his two children (one of whom is a current Red Raider). Duane this GUNS UP is for you, and while you’re talking to the Big Man Upstairs, see if you can talk him into sending us Red Raider fans a few more wins this year!