"Pressure can burst a pipe or pressure can make a diamond” means that pressure can bring out the best or the worst. “"Pressure made the diamond,” entertainer Diana Ross said in 1971. “And pressure busts pipes, you know,” San Francisco 49ers defensive lineman Gary Johnson said in January 1985 (referring to pressure on the other football team’s quarterback).
“Pressure busts pipes, but pressure makes diamonds” was said by NBA player Earl Boykins in 2002. “You have a lot of pressure (in a Game 7), and sometimes the pressure will burst the pipes, sometimes the pressure will make diamonds,” said San Antonio Spurs forward Robert Horry in 2005. Horry is often credited (incorrectly) for coining the saying.
18 April 1971, The Times-Picayune (New Orleans, LA), “Diana Ross’ Philosophy: Pressure Makes Diamonds” by Gene Handsaker, sec. 2, pg. 9, col. 1:
HOLLYWOOD (AP)—Success means pressure to remain a success. But Diana Ross doesn’t mind.
“It it’s hard right now, that’s all right,” she says. “Pressure made the diamond.”
22 January 1985, Lethbridge (Alberta) Herald, “‘Matchup for the ages’ was a disappointment” by Jim Murray (Los Angeles Times syndicate), pg. B2, col. 2:
“Something he (Miami Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino—ed.) hadn’t faced much this season. It was new to him. He was used to everybody scattering back when he cocked his arm. It was pressure. And pressure busts pipes, you know.”
(San Francisco 49ers defensive lineman Gary Johnson.—ed.)
28 February 1998, The Gazette (Cedar Rapids, IA), “Dilbert” comic strip by Scott Adams, pg. 3Q:
OUR NEW SLOGAN IS, “PRESSURE MAKE DIAMONDS.”
19 September 1999, Ashtabula (OH) Star Beacon, “Toppers stopped again” by Steve Goldman, pg. B4, col. 1:
“I asked the kids before the game, ‘How do you make a diamond?’ ” he (Chardon coach Bob Doyle—ed.) said. “Big-time pressure.”
20 November 2001, The Gazette (Cedar Rapids, IA), “Waiting for another Tyson blowup” by Tim Kawakami (San Jose Mercury News), pg. 6C, col. 4:
“Pressure bursts pipes,” Holyfield has said about Tyson.
Google Groups: alt.sports.basketball.nba.gs-warriors
SF Examiner: Long and short of it
Long and short of it
BY RON THOMAS
Of The Examiner Staff
OAKLAND—When 5-foot-5, 133-pound Earl Boykins walks onto the basketball court with his teammates, it looks like he’s the ball boy instead of the Warriors’ increasingly important backup point guard.
“Pressure’s what you make of it,” he said. “Pressure busts pipes, but pressure makes diamonds. It’s just part of what I do. I don’t see it as being that hard. You get released? Go get another job.”
Do U Know Who Your Daddy Is?:
The True Story About A Man Who Finds His Real Father after 25 Years
By Robert ‘Pip’ Montgomery
Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse
This day was the final cut, so the pressure was on. Pressure either busts pipes or makes diamonds.
Google News Archive
23 June 2005, The Hour (Norwalk, CT), “Spurs, Pistons go for broke” by Christ Sheridan (AP), pg. A9, col. 3:
“You have a lot of pressure (in a Game 7), and sometimes the pressure will burst the pipes, sometimes the pressure will make diamonds.”
San Antonio forward Robert Horry
Five-time NBA championship team member
Basketball Talk, the Way it Should Be!:
A Baller & Celebrity Quote Book
By Audley Stephenson
Lulu Corporation (lulu.com)
Troy “Escalade” Jackson explains if he ever felt pressure to live up to his big brother, Mark’s success:
“Man, pressure makes diamonds and bus pipes.”
The Final Four
By Paul Volponi
New York, NY: Viking
“Pressure can burst a pipe or pressure can make a diamond.”
—Robert (Big Shot Rob) Horry, whose clutch late-game shooting helped win a combined seven NBA titles for three different teams
Wizards proudly praise Otto Porter’s transformation
By Ben Standig
June 3, 2015, 11:45 am
“It’s an old saying: Pressure busts pipes or makes diamonds,” veteran swingman Rasual Butler quipped.