Rifleman is first to shatter an NBA backboard

Updated: October 14, 2005, 4:44 PM ET
By Larry Schwartz | Special to ESPN.com

Nov. 5, 1946

Before Chuck Connors made his mark as "The Rifleman" on television, he already played a starring role on the basketball court. Tonight, before the first home game of the Boston Celtics, Connors makes history: He is the first player to shatter a backboard in the NBA (though it was called the Basketball Association of American until 1949).

Connors, a 6-foot-6 inch center from Seton Hall, doesn't break the glass with a resounding dunk. No, it happens when he takes a two-handed shot in pregame warmup in Boston Arena. The ball catches the front of the rim and the backboard crumbles because a worker hadn't installed a piece of protective rubber between the rim and the backboard.

The game against the Chicago Stags is delayed an hour while a truck is dispatched to pick up another glass backboard in Boston Garden, where Gene Autry's rodeo is playing to a packed house.

In 53 games with the Celtics, Connors will average 4.5 points and shoot 25.2 percent from the field. He will play one game for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1949 and 66 for the Chicago Cubs in 1951 - hitting .238 - before going into show business.