CARY — Nubian Spann became a very popular guy this weekend.
The Panther Creek senior brought the Catamounts’ showdown with Apex to a stunning halt on Friday night when his fastbreak dunk shattered the backboard in a shower of glass.
The dunk – stunningly, Spann’s first in high school – forced the game between Southwest Athletic Conference front-runners to be postponed to an undetermined date because there was no backup backboard. Panther Creek leads 20-14 with 6:54 remaining in the second quarter, and the game will pick up from that point when it is restarted on Thursday.
Before that could happen, Spann became an Internet sensation.
“I hope to see it on ESPN’s Top 10,” Spann said. He got his wish.
The play was No. 1 on ESPN’s SportsCenter top plays that night and Spann was interviewed live during the 11:30 p.m. telecast.
The video has been picked up by other national outlets like CBSSports.com, which tried to make sense of the play by saying “due to older hoops still being vulnerable in many a local gym around the country, on occassion one poor apparatus will fail to sustain itself against the power and fury of a freakily built teenager.”
The problem with that statement, of course, is that Panther Creek opened in the fall of 2006 and Spann is a typical high school forward, standing maybe 6-foot-3 given the right sneakers. There is a reason he had no experience dunking in a high school game.
ESPN and MaxPreps both uploaded the video to their YouTube channels, but the original version still had more views – more than 60,000 – as of Monday afternoon.
Spann’s teammates celebrated with him after the dunk as the Panther Creek gym erupted in cheers.
“The kids in the locker room were saying, ‘Hey, coach, do you think that will make the SportsCenter Top 10?’” Catamounts coach L.J. Hepp said. “That’s one of those things that might, I don’t know.”
Spann suffered a small cut on the left side of his neck, but his adrenaline was pumping so much that he couldn’t feel it.
“I don’t feel anything right now,” Spann said with a smile. “When I came down, I heard a crack, and I thought the rim just popped. When it came down, it hit my neck and head and it shattered. Then, I looked at my teammates, and it was crazy. It felt good.”
Spann’s dunk came after an alley-oop pass from Juan Munoz.
“He threw it up, and I just went to go get it,” Spann said. “I’m excited right now. It’s God, for real. I prayed before the game – I don’t know what to do. I’m hyped right now.
“I saw the ball in my hand going in the rim, and I just dropped down. It was just crazy. I felt good when I did it, though.”
Apex coach David Neal said he’s not seen it in a game but that his school had to replace a backboard broken in practice this season after a dunk from Jon Jones.