Posts Tagged ‘NBA Photos’

Story of a photo: Capturing LeBron’s Game 3 dunk

CLEVELAND, OH - JUNE 8: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers goes up for a dunk against the Golden State Warriors against the Golden State Warriors in Game Three of the 2016 NBA Finals on June 8, 2016 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

(Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

CLEVELAND — The frozen moment happened with just under 3 minutes remaining in the third quarter of Game 3 of The 2016 NBA Finals. After knocking loose a pass from Golden State’s Stephen Curry to Festus Ezeli, Cleveland’s LeBron James grabbed the basketball and raced the other way to start a fast break.

Just past halfcourt, James collided with Curry and stumbled, his right knee and hand going to the floor to help him retain his balance, while James used his left hand to slap at the ball and keep his dribble alive. One second later, his bearing renewed, James resumed his dash to the hoop.

Curry was the lone defender between James and the basket, and as James neared the rim, Curry slid one step to his left, to truncate James’s angle of attack. LeBron quickly fired the ball to his left, where his teammate Kyrie Irving was streaking toward the rim. Curry and the basketball reached Irving at nearly the same time, and just as quickly as Irving caught the ball, he sprang off his right foot and immediately flipped the ball back up and over Curry, in the general vicinity of the hoop, where it figured that James would be arriving shortly.

“I knew he was going to throw it up there,” James said later. “And I had to go get it. He threw it, I had to go get it.”

It was not a perfect pass, but it was good enough. It was up to James, then, to do his part. And did he ever.

During the ball’s brief dalliance with Irving, James took five steps in the direction of the basket and then, leveraging his left foot against the court, James launched himself skyward, soaring up and at least equal to the rim.

As he flew, James twisted his torso and reached back with his right hand past the edge of the backboard, corralling the ball, and then he fired it though the hoop with a breathtaking combination of equal parts improbability, power, force and grace.

It was the play of The 2016 Finals thus far, a moment tailor-made to immediately go viral and embed itself in our brains for posterity as one of the signature plays of the 2016 postseason, if not James’ career.

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But James and Irving weren’t the only one who did great work on the possession. As LeBron stole the ball and turned toward his basket, sitting a few hundred feet away and a couple of rows up in an arena seat in Quicken Loans Arena’s Section 106, Jesse Garrabrant was also preparing to try and create a different type of NBA Finals history.

A photographer for NBA Photos since 1994, Garrabrant lives on the New Jersey shore and shoots every Philadelphia 76ers home game. As the playoffs build toward an ultimate finish, NBA Photos brings all hands on deck to cover every game from every angle. In Cleveland for Game 3, Garrabrant rigged multiple remote controlled cameras around Quicken Loans Arena, which he could control from a button in his seat in Section 106. While Garrabrant could make the cameras click, he wasn’t actually looking down the viewfinders as the shutter snapped. So Garrabrant was, quite literally, firing blind.

“You want to take chances and if it works, there’s a big bonus,” said Garrabrant a day later. “You get a guy like LeBron who can create an incredible play, and if he’s in the exact right spot, it can totally work. At the same time, it could have also completely struck out, especially when you’re doing directional lighting like that.”

The lighting Garrabrant referred to is a special technique known as “spotlighting.” Garrabrant’s remote cameras for Game 3 were geared to take advantage of this method, which can give action photos a dramatic flair, adding depth and richness. But again, with the reward came a risk. “The lighting covers the paint,” Garrabrant explained, “because that’s where the majority of the action happens. LeBron is going to go to the hole sometime, and you just hope the lighting is going to cover it.”

For Game 3, Garrabrant had a camera clamped to the edge of the set ESPN uses for their live pre-and postgame broadcasts, which is assembled on a platform in a corner of The Q, near Section 113. Unless you looked closely, you wouldn’t notice Garrabrant’s camera. Luckily for the rest of us, this camera saw everything. As it turned out, this was the ultimate angle, from which Garrabrant captured the photo you see at the top of this post.

Within seconds of James’ dunk, Garrabrant’s picture was made available for download via NBA Photos on Getty Images, and it quickly started popping up all over social media. It was tweeted and re-tweeted and shared tens of thousands of times, as fans and other media members expressed their amazement. ESPN’s Don Van Natta tweeted that it was the picture of the year. It “belongs in the damn Louvre,” noted Mashable’s Sam Laird.

***

While the rest of us marveled over Garrabrant’s image of James’ Game 3 dunk, Garrabrant’s mind drifted back to 2008. As it turned out, Garrabrant may have been the perfect person to capture this dunk from this player from this angle, particularly when you consider he’d done almost exactly the same thing before.

“[James] had almost the same dunk in the ’08 Conference semifinals against Kevin Garnett, in the same spot on the court,” recalled Garrabrant. “Same angle, he threw it the same way, everything, except this was an alley-oop and that one was just him driving to the basket. I shot that game and I got the same angle on that particular dunk.”

CLEVELAND - MAY 12: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers dunks over Kevin Garnett #5 of the Boston Celtics in Game Four of the 2008 NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals on May 12, 2008 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright: 2008 NBAE (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Images)

(Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Images)

We may live in an age where video is increasingly available, streaming at us almost inexorably every time we open a browser window. But there’s still something magical about the perfect photo, which freezes a moment in time in a way that we never want to forget.

Following Game 3, Kyrie Irving was asked about his pass to James on the play. “I wanted to see something great,” Irving said. “I threw it very, very… you know, some people may say it’s a bad pass, but I wanted to see something great.”

At least on this night, we all got to see something great.

NBA Behind The Scenes: The Photo Game (Part Two)

FOR PART ONE, CLICK HERE

BROOKLYN Earlier this week, I spent an evening shadowing Nathaniel Butler from NBA Photos as he photographed the Trail Blazers-Nets game in Brooklyn. During the game, Butler gave me a camera and let me shoot the action. What follows are some of the images I took that night, with my thoughts and comments below each picture. These pictures have not been cropped or color-corrected or anything else. This is what I shot … for better, or for, probably mostly, worse.

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As the Blazers took the floor to warm up directly in front of me, Nic Batum started hoisting 15-footers from the right wing. I picked up my camera, zoomed in a bit, half-pushed the button down to make sure the image was focused, and then fired off the shot. What I didn’t account for was that Batum would jump when he shot, so my photo chopped off his arms and the ball.

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Once the game started, sure enough the Nets ran a play to get Kevin Garnett a shot at the top of the key. I saw the play developing and as soon as KG caught the ball and squared up, I took this picture. Unfortunately, as you may notice, I managed to capture all of the players out of focus. But the basket support and the fans in the front rows are crystal clear. Also, terrific job by me to cut off the shot clock. (more…)

NBA Behind The Scenes: The Photo Game (Part One)

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(Editor’s Note: While we cover the NBA as obsessively as we can around here, there are still numerous ancillary parts of the game experience that we want to uncover and explore. Being involved with the NBA can mean everything from serving up exotic foods to firing shirts into the crowd. We will delve into these angles of the NBA as part of a new regular (and perhaps a bit irregular) All Ball series, NBA Behind The Scenes.)

BROOKLYN — It was 3:30 on Monday afternoon in Brooklyn, four hours before the Brooklyn Nets would play host to the Portland Trail Blazers. The interior hallways of the Barclays Center were mostly deserted, save for a few food service employees firing up ovens and custodial staff giving the place a final shine before thousands of fans arrived. Out on the arena floor, a rec league championship game was taking place.

Sitting in a folding chair just below one of the baskets was a man in a black polo shirt and jeans, working at a determined pace. He wasn’t tall, wasn’t short, and his blond hair made determining his age require more than a glance. He tore black gaffers tape into strips and secured loose wires that were splayed all over the place — to the basket support, from the basket support, along the cement arena floor, on the edge of the court. Three large hard plastic containers were open on the floor around him, all neatly packed with lenses, cameras, tripods and various other equipment. A hand truck was just behind, waiting to be loaded up and rolled away.

The man’s assistant turned up, carrying several camera batteries, which were checked and rechecked, and some were swapped out for more potent options. Words like “reflectors” and “overheads” were used casually between the two men in conversation. A ladder was propped up under a backboard, and a multi-thousand dollar camera was affixed to the glass and carefully aimed out toward the paint.

I had come to Brooklyn to meet up with Nathaniel S. Butler, who is a photographer for NBA Photos, and has been chronicling the NBA in pictures for about two decades now. You may not know Nat Butler’s name, but if you’re an NBA fan, you almost definitely know his work. Like perhaps this image …

John Starks drives hard for a slam dunk

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