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Spurs coach Popovich speaks out against baseline photographers

Oct 20, 2013, 9:30 AM EST

Gregg Popovich AP

Tony Parker left the Spurs’ preseason game against the Heat on Saturday after hitting his finger on the camera of a photographer seated along the baseline.

There was no serious injury sustained, but it gave Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich yet another opportunity to publicly speak out against various arena personnel being stationed so close to the players on the floor.

From Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News:

Parker’s left hand is fine, but his head coach was not thrilled with the cameraman’s proximity to the court at AmericanAirlines Arena.

“It’s a danger waiting to happen,” Gregg Popovich said. …

“It’s kind of like when you’re in your neighborhood. You keep telling people you need a stop sign, and they don’t change it until a kid gets killed and then they put up a stop sign,” Popovich said. “Somebody of stature is going to get seriously hurt by one of those guys, and then all hell will break loose.”

Last season, Steven Jackson (before he was cut) sustained an injury when he collided with a waitress taking an order on the sideline while the game was in progress.

Baseline photographers are indeed a hazard to the players, and if they can’t be moved back far enough to prevent any type of injury, then they should be eliminated from that floor location altogether.

Popovich is right — an injury to one of the game’s high-profile stars isn’t worth a few extra high-quality photos from a baseline angle.

  1. nagidac - Oct 20, 2013 at 9:46 AM

    He is 100% correct. It’s not safe for players or the photographers, and sooner or later, there will be a player that will suffer a season ending or even worse a career ending injury because of it (not to mention the poor photographers that have these huge men throw themselves at full force towards them). Recipe for disaster for both sides…

    • Phil Hawkins Photography - Oct 24, 2013 at 1:10 PM

      Well then, based on this article they better move the table back or off the floor entirely… I can’t tell you how many players we see sprawled out on the scorer’s table, or doing somersaults over the table… players running into the bench chairs… I mean if you want to turn the court into a padded cell then I guess you could do that, but it ain’t necessary. Photogs are part of the game same as the reporters, scorekeepers, clock operators, ushers, and yes, the high-priced seats at court side. I’m a photographer, and I get flattened REAL good at least once a season, and if you anticipate it and you know how to lay out your equipment to minimize damage to you and the player it’s not a problem.

  2. casualcommenter - Oct 20, 2013 at 10:16 AM

    I agree with Popovich. Baseline photographers post an injury risk – and I’ve seen many star players get “dinged up” in collisions with photographers and especially their cameras (nothing serious, but stuff like ankle sprains).

    I feel like moving them back several feet accomplishes two things – first, it would decrease the injury risk. Second, it would encourage more effort/hustle plays as the ball is about to go out of bounds. Players would be more willing to make desperate leaps to try to keep the ball in bounds if they didn’t have to worry about landing on a (sharp) camera. Those plays are among the more exciting in basketball, so moving the cameras back could lead to more interesting games.

    • phumnicky - Nov 12, 2013 at 1:38 PM

      The NBA has a rule that all camera lenses must have rubber hoods on them. There are plenty of other objects around the edges of the court that are just as dangerous. The photographers aren’t any more of a risk for the players than the fans, the chairs the fans sit in, the scorers table, the TV cameras, the parabolic microphones, the computers on the scorers table, the handles and ‘sweat sweepers’ that clean the floor at time outs, the chairs that make up the modern NBA ‘bench’…to name just a few.

  3. hoosiercolts - Oct 20, 2013 at 10:36 AM

    Years ago Reggie Miller broke the orbital bone around his eye by colliding with a camera after he fell along the baseline. These cameramen have to go.

    • phumnicky - Nov 12, 2013 at 1:30 PM

      Reggie Miller could have broken a bone landing on the scorers table or a fans chair leg or on the possession arrow box or on just about any of several dozen things right around the court. Why not have have the players wear pads and helmets…then they’ll never get hurt. ;-)

  4. sellahh - Oct 20, 2013 at 11:06 AM

    I’m starting to understand Dennis Rodman now. Well, in that one particular case, that is.

  5. stayhigh_247 - Oct 20, 2013 at 11:36 AM

    i agree that it can be hazardous for photographers to be there, but where are they suppose to go? Sports is a billion dollar industry and those images are what sell shoes, gatorade, magazines etc. Its a business, those images help sell the sport which in turn plays a major role in those guys getting big salaries. The flip side to this is that cameramen are in danger of getting hurt just like the players are, they get hurt and broken cameras all the time. The only way to make all sides happy would be to reconfigure arenas with photographer dugouts with padding and seating above them. That way players can jump over the dugout when they are going out of bounds. Its not a perfect plan, but it would eliminate players running into cameramen.

  6. philyeagles5 - Oct 20, 2013 at 1:47 PM

    Fans sit too close too the floor too. The sideline for the players should be a lot bigger that it is. If a player needs to stretch he shouldn’t have to lay at his teammates feet. Also balls going OB are very hard to save with all the chairs players have to worry about leaping over.

  7. yankeepunk3000 - Oct 20, 2013 at 3:12 PM

    Hough I agree they’re too close I love the analogy. Yes bumping into a camera and hurting your finger or ankle in a game is the same as a child being killed by a reckless driver. Same thing…oh my first world thinking my friends

  8. meyeshua - Oct 21, 2013 at 4:05 AM

    The players no longer have any escape when going off the court. This should have started being a players union issue years ago.

  9. kylegrantham - Oct 21, 2013 at 4:39 PM

    You can back the photographers up with you back the fans in metal legged chairs off the floor too. Are you kidding me? Photographers have been on the baseline for decades. I’ve not seen any player have any trouble leaping over or taking them out going for a ball, just like they do to the fans along the sideline. At least a photographer has some give. Those chairs don’t. And typically on the baseline those photographers are sitting on the floor in front of fans in chairs, so you’d really have to do away with courtside seating altogether if we’re really worried about “safety” and not complaining to complain.

  10. jkn66 - Oct 21, 2013 at 6:39 PM

    What about the fans that are on the court? They are just a much of a danger.

    What an arrogant statement “Somebody of stature is going to get seriously hurt by one of those guys, and then all hell will break loose.”

    Somebody of stature? Really? So the players health and well being is of greater importance than that of the photojournalist who is documenting the game for the fans who can’t there.

    It’s such a ridiculous argument.

    • 1historian - Oct 23, 2013 at 10:41 AM

      “So the players’ health and well-being is of greater importance than that of the photojournalist who is documenting the game for the fans who can’t (be) there.”

      Correct. (If it weren’t for the players the photojournalist wouldn’t be there.)

      Some free agent who never had a chance gets hurt – it’s not a big deal.

      “Somebody of stature is going to get hurt by one of those guys, and then all hell will break loose.”

      Correct – again.

      It’s a business

  11. thomasrboyd - Oct 21, 2013 at 7:16 PM

    I’ve been shooting NBA for over 20 years. I’ve never had a player touch me…except for Rodman grinding his heel into my toe just to be a dick.

    In most arenas they’ve moved the fans much closer to the court causing the photogs to be closer. On top of that, what about the table that houses the announcer, stats guy, writers, etc. I’ve seen way more players go into that mess.

    Besides, how do you guys think all those iconic images of NBA get made. They don’t fall from the rafters like magic. Most of them were shot by a photographer sitting on the baseline. I’m sure most fans can call up dozens of those images in their mind. Then think about where the camera was when they were made….the baseline.

  12. phumnicky - Nov 12, 2013 at 1:22 PM

    There have been photographers on the baselines/sidelines of sporting events for over 50 years and I have yet to hear of an athlete getting grievously injured because of it. It’s just something for people to bitch about for a day or two, then it goes away because it’s really not a problem.

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