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Virden Man Used John Deere Part to Create First Break-Away Basketball Rim
Between the legs.
All phrases synonymous with the slam dunk.
And it was all made possible -- with the help of John Deere.
"This is the first breakaway rim," said Arthur Ehrat, inventor of the break-away basketball rim.
An invention that changed the game of basketball.
Arthur Ehrat of Virden developed the breakaway rim after his nephew, a basketball coach, came to him with a problem.
"He says they bend the rim up, we have to hire union iron workers to take it down, and union iron workers to take it back, and he says they break some of the bones in their hand for slam dunking the ball," Ehrat said.
But having grown up on a farm, Ehrat is a problem-solver.
"We thrashed, filled silo, grated roads, baled hay, and we had a dealership for Case machinery. So really I pretty well was familiar with any type of machinery and of course it seems back in that day when something broke, you fixed it yourself," Ehrat said.
So Ehrat was up to the challenge.
"So i went to the hardware store and bought a 20 dollar basketball rim so i could kind of visualize of some way to make it that it could kind of yield to a force and save injuries to players and quit breaking the backboard," Ehrat said.
Ehrat worked as the manager of the Louder Grain Elevator and he found inspiration for his invention in the field across from his office.
"They would farm that and I can remember too that maybe they were field cultivating there and how those shanks would jiggle up and down and these springs on the field cultivators and I think that's one reason why it was kind of stuck in my head maybe I should try one of those springs," Ehrat said.
Ehrat received a patent for his breakaway rim in December 1982.
A patent that changed his life.
"Here's a plaque for the Smithsonian."
"The NBA contacted me."
"And here's the Illinois Basketball Association."
"There's no other picture that's ever been taken with the guy that invented the rim and the slam dunker."
It's no surprise Ehrat is a basketball fan and there's one thing he always has it eye out for.
"I look for the slam dunk," Ehrat said.
The first slam dunk with the use of the breakaway rim happened in 1978 in St. Louis.
The modern-day rim is covered under Ehrat's patent.
Wednesday, April 23 2014, 10:23 AM CDT