[inline:large]Dawkins. Jordan. Shaq. This holy trinity of basketball legends is synonymous with a beloved type of slam dunk that snaps the rim and shatters the backboard. We've all seen the nostalgic SportsCenter clips or televised half-time shows celebrating their backboard-breaking demolition derbies. But what exactly makes these magnificent dunk conquests so harmonious? Seeing a baller sail through the air for a monster slam feeds a fetish for watching something beautiful get destroyed. In this case, the crown jewel is the shiny, crystal backboard. The rare staccato, soprano splash of fiberglass bursting and showering the court is the sporting world's equivalent of a masterfully performed Mozart aria. It is sonic bliss. The entire spectacle can only be described as music to one's ears, particularly when accompanied by a thunderous eruption of rabid fan hysteria from the stands. As most sports fan knows, the NBA has moved away from using buckling backboards into an era of flexible breakaway rims, so the halcyon days of slam dunks with glass downpours on the hardwood are pretty much over. From a fan's perspective, it's worrisome. It makes a child of the '80s wonder if the up-coming generation of ballers will ever be able to witness the sublime destruction of a basketball hoop or experience a game delay while underpaid janitors sweep the court free of fiberglass shrapnel. Sure, hoops still explode like dynamite in antiquated high school gymnasiums or in suburban driveways, but the craft is now mostly a fossil of basketball past in the big leagues. Here's a nostalgic two-and-a-half-step walk down memory lane to a bygone era in hoops when rims were theatrically bolted to the glass backboard, rather than the steel apparatus that suspends the goal today. These venomous displays of aerial pageantry are truly the creme de le creme of dunks that break and shatter shit. 30. Dwight Howard Breaks the Shot Clock Early in the first quarter of the Eastern Conference championship, Dwight Howard's quick, powerful jam puts the Magic on the board and brings down the shot clock. Superman's slam is definitely not the most dramatic, but it's a testament to the sheer strength and domination in the paint of the 2008 NBA Slam Dunk Contest champion.
29. A Kid Mutilates an Entire Hoop with One Slam This homemade novelty clip of a kid dunking on faulty outdoor equipment in Myrtle Beach, S.C., is definitely not pretty. But his ability to destruct public property with his high-flying skills is the dream of any basketball-playing anarchist. 28. Kevin Love Shatters Glass A native of Oregon and a former UCLA Bruin, Kevin Love is now in his second year as a forward for the Minnesota Timberwolves (he's currently recovering from surgery on his left hand). Love broke Oregon's all-time scoring record during the 2006 season with 2,628 points, but that wasn't the only thing he shattered that season. During a 2006 game against Putnam High School, Love smashed a backboard on a breakaway dunk. 27. D.J. Magley's Magnificent Damage D.J. Magley was another recruit out of high school to the Western Kentucky Hilltopers. He has most recently transferred to the University of Tulsa, where he will lace up for the 2009-2010 season. This vicious dunk from his high school years caused the game to be moved to a different location. 26. Richard Nelson Smashes Glass After a Dizzying 360 Richard Nelson is a former power forward for Sacramento's Encina High School. Nelson's masterpiece was caught on camera during an annual Encina Alumni game. His dizzying acrobatics on this breakaway dunk includes a bewildering 360 coupled with a devastating one-hand jam. The one-two punch annihilates the backboard and sends the rim sailing to the floor. Up Next: #25 through #21 -- LeBron James, Nigel Dixon, and More [photo courtesy SI.com]