Connect with us

Pitt Basketball

Jerome Lane Remembers Stellar Pitt Career and ‘The Dunk’ 35 Years Later



Jerome Lane

For most Pitt fans and even casual basketball fans, they know or have at least seen Jerome Lane’s famous glass shattering dunk.

This incredible display of athleticism that made this play so impressive has led people generally refer to it as, “The Dunk.”

Then ranked No. 11 Pitt faced off against Big East opponent Providence on Jan. 25, 1988, at the Fitzgerald Field House.

The Panthers led the Friars 6-5 with about 16 minutes left in the first half. Panthers senior forward Demetrius Gore tipped an inbounds play by the Friars and the ball found itself in the hands of first-year guard Sean Miller, who pushed the ball down the court and found Lane, then a junior forward, with a quick pass.

Lane, running down the right wing, got the pass, took two steps and jumped up. Akin to a Clyde Drexler “Glide” dunk, Lane rose up and slammed the ball on Providence sophomore guard Carlton Screen, destroying the backboard.

He then celebrated with his teammates on the court in first-year guard Jason Matthews, senior forward Charles Smith, Gore and Miller.

Pitt postponed the game for 30 minutes so they could replace the backboard. They would go on to demolish Providence, 90-56, in a win that improved them to 14-2 on the season and 4-1 in Big East play.

Pittsburgh Sports Now spoke to Lane on Tuesday, focusing on “The Dunk,” the celebration on Wednesday and his Pitt career as a whole.

The dunk will always serve as a memorable moment for Lane, no matter how many times people show it to him or how often he sees it.

“Not too many people can forget about it because it’s so memorable,” Lane said. “Everything’s just set in stone. The dunk happened, the glass falling on your head, the players come knock the glass of your head, everybody’s celebrating with you. You go into the locker room, make plans about how you’re going to come back out on the court. Warm up again and get to play in that game again.”

One big part of that memorable dunk is the call by color commentator Bill Raftery in that game. His signature, “Send it in Jerome!” call is something that those who have seen the dunk on numerous occasions remember forever, including Lane himself, who credits Raftery for making that dunk as special as it was.

“Without Bill [Raftery], the calling of the dunk, it probably wouldn’t have been as exciting without Bill,” Lane said. “Because if you hear, “Send it In!” You already know it’s Jerome Lane. 

In honor of the 35th anniversary of the dunk, Pitt is bringing back Lane to the Petersen Events Center on Wednesday, Jan. 25 as they take on Wake Forest at 7 p.m.

Lane will sign autographs at the Pitt Shop in the Thomas E. Richards Family Lobby prior to the game from 6-6:45 p.m. The first 1,500 fans that attend the game also receive a pint glass honoring the dunk and the first 1,000 students in the Oakland Zoo receive Jerome Lane shirt jerseys.

The event was an easy decision for Lane to attend and play a part in. He is close with former Pitt Basketball player Sam Clancy (1977-81) who works in the Athletic Department helping with events and Lane said that he is always available if they need him.

Lane is also excited for the celebration to see all the fans and also because he will bring a large portion of his family with him. He said that as he gets older, he understands the importance of celebrating in the present, especially with the death of his teammate Gore, in 2020.

“I’ll probably bring around 20, 25 people this time to celebrate this because it might not happen again,” Lane said. “I’m getting up in age and I just want to them see something special and I want most of my family to be there. I hope most of my fans can be there and that I can see the supporters that were there and that still support are going to be there tomorrow.”

The dunk provides a great moment for celebration, but to some extent, it also causes many people to overlook how impressive of a player Lane was during his time at Pitt from 1985-88.

Standing at just 6-foot-6 and weighing 230 pounds, Lane showed his prowess as a rebounder. He became the shortest player in 30 years to lead the NCAA with 13.5 rebounds per game in his sophomore season in 1986-87.

Lane also holds the record for most rebounds as a sophomore with 444 in 1986-87 and as a junior in 1987-88 with 378 in Panthers history. Those 444 rebounds total, his 246 defensive rebounds his and 198 offensive rebounds in 1986-87 are all the most in a season in Pitt history. He finished with 970 rebounds over his Pitt career, which ranks third most in program history, behind Smith and Clancy.

Lane also showed his ability as a scorer averaging of 13.1 points per game in 92 appearances over his three seasons at Pitt. His 26 double-doubles in 1986-87 are the most in a season in Pitt history and his 46 total double-doubles are the third most in a Pitt career.

Lane would finish his Pitt career as a two-time All-American, Third-Team in 1986-1987 and Consensus Second-Team in 1987-1988, and earned First-Team Big East honors in 1987-88 as well.

Some of the toughest moments Lane had in his career came in the NCAA Tournament, something that many Pitt fans understand completely.

No. 3 Pitt fell in the Second Round to No. 6 Oklahoma in a close, 96-93 battle in 1987. Pitt earned a No. 2 seed in 1988, but once again lost in the Second Round, this time to Vanderbilt. Vanderbilt guard Barry Coheen hit a buzzer-beater 3-pointer that forced the game into overtime, where Pitt fell 80-74.

Lane, who made a program record 20 rebounds in an NCAA Tournament game in that game, said that the Vanderbilt loss “almost killed him” and described his Pitt career as, “someone who always gave 100%.”

“They don’t know nothing about Jerome Lane, besides the dunk,” Lane said on his basketball career. “They don’t know I was a two-time All-American, they don’t know I was a leading rebounder, they don’t know I was a double-double man. They don’t know nothing about that. All they know is Jerome Lane shattered the backboard.”

Lane remains somewhat of a unique player in that there aren’t many similar style players in the modern game of basketball. He said that during his playing days, the offensive game plan flowed inside-out and now it flows outside-in. This features teams looking to shoot from behind the arc more, including centers including 3-point shooting in their game, meaning that less players post up or play with their back to the basket.

He did compare his game to Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green. Green is not a top shooter, but he is a solid rebounder and his contributions off the ball have helped Golden State win four championships in the last decade.

“We probably have a similar game, you know, rebounding, dribbling the ball, passing, court awareness,” Lane said. “I would say him, as we are similar in style. I don’t see too many players do that now, try to excel at all phases of the game.”

Lane still keeps in touch with his past Pitt teammates, using Facebook as a way to connect with all of them. He also still manages to make it out to a Pitt game or two, especially if they’re honoring former teammates of his, but the poor form of the program over recent years has kept him away.

Pitt is now 13-7 overall and 6-3 in ACC play this season. Jeff Capel and his players have turned this season around and are looking to contend for a spot in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2016.

Lane said that a big part of why he is excited for the celebration on Wednesday is seeing the Oakland Zoo, the Panthers student section, that provides a boost whenever the Panthers play at home.

“I wish we would’ve had something like the [Oakland] Zoo at the Petersen [Events Center],” Lane said. “Golly! Boy, we would’ve really scared some teams. That little [Fitzgerald] Field House was alright, but I would’ve loved to play in the Petersen. When we played in the Civic Arena, we played their once or twice a year. That was cool. But that Petersen, whoo, that’s beautiful.”

Lane sees a fight in this team that he hasn’t seen in recent Pitt squads. He believes that they have solid, quality players and that Capel has turned things around this season, but also that Pitt needs to keep this momentum going by winning more games.

“This team, they’re competitive, you can see it,” Lane said. “They got fight in them. That’s all I’m asking for. You can see it. I don’t like nobody that lay down.”

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
1 Comment
Notify of
1 Comment
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Joe DeSantis
Joe DeSantis
1 year ago

Quite the article. Quite the player. If people don’t remember him, they should. I’m sure the Pitt fans that saw him play still remember. Respect. This article will bring his legacy back. Hope you get a pint glass and a t-shirt. Too bad they weren’t giving out chards of glass memorabilia! How cool would that be!?

Get PSN in your inbox!

Enter your email and get all of our posts delivered straight to your inbox.

Like Pittsburgh Sports Now on Facebook!
Send this to a friend