Boston Celtic forward Kevin McHale blocks shot by Philadelphia 76ers forward Julius Erving (“Dr. J”) during NBA game won by the Celtics (© Michael Maher, The Lowell (Ma.) Sun).
The Celtic teams of the 1980s were led by their Hall of Fame frontcourt; center Robert Parrish, along with forwards Larry Bird and Kevin McHale. McHale was known for his tough inside play, where he consistently scored, rebounded and blocked shots, helped by his famously long arms. The Philadelphia 76ers were the Celtics’ fierce rival in the NBA’s Eastern Conference, and every game of the season was important in deciding who would finish first and gain playoff home court advantage. The defense in this game was tough by both teams, so I shot from a sideline spot near center court, trying to capture the defensive intensity with photos of steals or blocked shots. By sitting here, I could see the faces of the defenders as the offensive players drove at them. However, I couldn’t anticipate the plays very accurately, and instead focused on the players most likely to make strong defensive plays. For awhile, I kept my camera trained on McHale playing defense, and when Philadelphia’s Julius Erving (“Dr. J”) drove to the basket, McHale leaped high in the air to knock the shot away, and I had my picture.
1) Midpoint on the court allows you to photograph defenders’ faces and defensive action at both ends of the court.
2) Concentrate on the players most likely to make defensive plays.
3) Use a 105MM or 180MM lens, depending on how tight you want the shot to be.