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|| News Item: Posted 2015-07-22

Deja Vu

By Robert Hanashiro, Sports Shooter

Photo by Robert Hanashiro, USA TODAY

Photo by Robert Hanashiro, USA TODAY

Lithuania's Sarunas Jasikevicius tries to block a shot by Argentina's Pablo Prigioni during 2nd half action in the men's bronze medal game during the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics.
The star player goes out of bounds, stumbles into baseline photographers and is injured on national TV. The chants start: Ban the photographers!

LeBron James in Games 4 of this year’s NBA Finals against the Warriors?


It’s 1992, Game 5 of the NBA Finals and the Bulls’ Michael Jordan rolls an ankle on a photographer’s camera after shooting a fade away baseline jumper that carried him several feet off the court against the Portland Trailblazers at the Rose Garden. I witnessed the sequence through a 300mm from across the court and as Jordan hobbled back on defense I couldn’t help but think there would be hell to pay.

(You can see the play at 28:00 in this YouTube video --- the quality if terrible but you get an idea of what happened:

During the next timeout NBA officials patrolled the baseline, telling us to get back a few more feet. But the damage was done and the rumblings began amongst us: We’ll be shooting the next game from the stands.

The outcry for player safety --- or should we say player AND photographer safety --- is certainly legit. I am all for it as is anyone who has regularly covered sports would be.

The NBA has reduced the number of baseline photo slots considerably over the past few years and drawn bigger “escape lanes” for players driving to the hoop at breakneck speed.

For years the Summer Olympics did not allow photographers on court level, requiring us to shoot from positions in the seating area with 300mm and 400mm teles. But the last few Olympics, photographers have had what I considered great baselines spots: sitting on benches behind a padded barricade.

Also, since you’re not sitting on the floor you don’t have the problem of shooting up into the lights, but the benches are back a little further than I think is necessary. Better safe than sorry.

But putting in benches and a padded barricade for photographers would mean eliminating the high-roller seating behind the baselines…not something the teams or the league would do.

Let’s hope there is a conversation between the NBA and the news organizations that regularly cover the league if more restrictions on court-level photographers are considered.

* * *

Sports has always been a big part of my life. Whether it was playing catch with my dad in the backyard when I was 5; looking up Willie McCovey’s stats in “Who’s Who In Baseball” 100 times when I was 10 or running down the sidelines at Radcliffe Stadium shooting football with a Miranda Sensorex and a Soligor 135mm lens when I was 15.

It’s that love of sports and a love of photography that guided me to a wonderful career and eventually led me to start Sports Shooter. The newsletter, websites, and workshops have all given me ---and many of my good friends--- a rare opportunity: Giving a little something back.

These days it seems everyone wants to be a Sports Shooter. And it seems there are some out there who want to tell us all what Sports Shooter should be about.

Times and the business have changed. But my desire to educate, inspire, entertain and enlighten has not.

Guys: I’ve got this!

As always, special thanks to: Deanna & Emma Hanashiro, Brad Mangin, Grover Sanschagrin, Joe Gosen and Jason Burfield.

Thanks this month to contributors: Michael Chow, Martin McNeil, Candice Ward, Nic Coury, Carlos Jose Fajardo, Scott Strazzante and Steven Limentani.

The comments, opinions and other perceived nutty statements that the writers may have expressed, implied, imagined or made up are theirs and theirs alone. Sports Shooter, Inc. and published these articles in good faith with the purpose of education and inspiration. Permission in writing must be obtained from Sports Shooter, Inc. and the author of the article before being reprinted. Comments, corrections, suggestions and contributions are appreciated. Please e-mail me at

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