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|| News Item: Posted 2000-05-30

Leading Off: Small Town Antics at the NBA Playoffs
By Robert Hanashiro

Photo by Robert Hanashiro

Photo by Robert Hanashiro
I guess it's been a long time since the large market Los Angeles Lakers have been to the NBA Finals and there has been this amount of media and fan hysteria connected with the team.

Not since the Lakers had some real "Magic" (Earvin Johnson) and a real "Sky Hook" (Kareem Abdul Jabbar) I guess. And the last time, there was a player winning his first of six NBA rings (Michael Jordan).

Now it's "Shaq" and "Kobe" and the Staples Center (rather than the "Fabulous Forum") that's causing all of the fuss in LA.

So in 10 years I guess I've gotten crankier and some of the "small town" antics by photographers at recent Lakers' Playoff Games aren't in keeping with the image I'd expect where the Big Macs cost 6 bucks and the "fans" courtside drink wine coolers instead of Bud.

I guess.

So please forgive this old, cranky photographer as he rants.

A letter to Los Angeles-area newspapers:

Dear Photo Chief of the Smog-Town Tribune:
I know it's been a while since the Los Angeles Lakers (AKA "Our Team") have been favored to win the NBA Championship. But in that 10 years, a lot has changed and I have covered all of them (save for last season due to a month-long vacation to Kosovo) and I'd like to offer some advice:

* Don't let your photographers bring their point-and-shoot totting sisters to games so they can make happy-snaps of the celebs sitting courtside.

* Secretaries at your paper can not use an "extra pass" and just show up at a game, even if they sit in an overflow photo position.

Photo by Robert Hanashiro

Photo by Robert Hanashiro
* Send shooters who DO know the players without a program! assigning a shooter who has to ask me, "which one's Shaq?" and "can you point out Kobe?" is not only an embarrassment but also shows a lack of doing one's homework. (Okay, I concede not everyone knows what John Salley, the third player I was recently asked to point out, looks like.)

* The cool shooters don't bitch about how bad the $5 pressroom food is and still eat that crap while sitting with the blow-dried, pancake make-up faced local TV sports "reporters." The cool shooters dine on sirloin or ahi tuna sandwiches for $7.50 on the Staples Center rooftop patio overlooking downtown LA.

* I know it's just an NBA Playoff game, but have your staff wear long pants and shirts with sleeves and collars for Clarkson's-sake! (Tank tops and short pants with sandals and no socks are not appropriate dress for ANY assignment!)

* Just because you're "doing a book" doesn't mean you can assign half an army to cover games. Especially in the early rounds. What happened to "The simpler the better" and the old Texas Rangers' motto (not the baseball team) "One riot, one Ranger"?

* And finally, openly cheering on the baseline should be limited to after a Shaq dunk or Kobe hits an off-balance jumper. Photographers pumping their fists after a Ron Harper or Robert Horry basket is not acceptable behavior.

Yours truly,
"Cranky Old Sports Shooter"

* * *

A few more notes from the NBA Playoffs:
* Why do players insist on sitting on the baseline blocking the view of photographers? Now I don't complain about this just because it prevents photographers from doing their job, but they are inches from the end line and it's a safety hazard. Being that close also makes it easier for them to talk trash and run smack on the player who ARE playing.

* What is the purpose of a "laser light show" during player introductions? It takes them 15 minutes to set up and another 5 minutes to get the contraption off the court all for a 90 second "show".

* Why can't TV cameramen (and their friggin' cable pullers) wait just 15 seconds before running out onto the floor so they can stick a wide angle in the face of players as they come off the court? Just a few seconds would give the REST of us a chance to make a photo or two.

* * *
Sports Shooter v.20 goes a bit "geeky" with an interesting article by the AP's Mark Terrill on using wireless LAN to solve a lofty problem. Mongo returns with part 2 of his series on places to stay when you're planning a roadtrip; Joe Traver gives us the official word on shooting the upcoming Summer Olympic Games in Sydney, Steve Ringman tells us what it's like to win a $1 million and Alan Lessig gives us a peek at Detroit Tigers' new home.

And, as we like to say around the Sports Shooter offices ... "much, much more!"

So sit back, adjust the contrast on your monitor. Tone down that MP3 player and enjoy Sports Shooter v.20.

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Robert Hanashiro:

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