Fri June 13, 2014
When The Heat Fall... On Photographers
The Miami Heat fell to the San Antonio Spurs in this 2014 NBA Finals, after winning only one game in the seven-game series. Despite the definitive loss, one group may be relieved: the courtside photographers who won't have to feel the weight of falling players for a while.
If you've seen a handful of games, you may have witnessed a basketball player trip, jump or slide off court and onto a nearby photographer (or sometimes fan). Below, read about what it's like to be on the ground when that happens.
When LeBron James fell on him, Sun Sentinel photographer Mike Laughlin says, "he grabbed me from my arms, and literally picked me up like a child. ... He picked me up like he was doing curls."
Laughlin says he weighs 220 lbs. James only weighs about 30 more. But he's still a nearly 7-feet-tall, roughly 250-lb. mass of muscle.
Al Diaz of the Miami Herald says courtside photographers can feel "vibrations" on the floor when 'Bron dunks the ball or runs towards the basket.
"LeBron comes pounding in and the floor shakes," Diaz says. "And it's like... 'Oh, my God.'"
Laughlin says the part he hates the most about crash-landing basketball players is how sweaty they are. He says, "when they fall on you, they usually get you wet from their sweat."
Last year at an away game, Dywane Wade fell backwards onto Diaz.
"His sweaty cheek landed on my face," he says. That's intimate.
That Wade landing also touched Diaz's camera. The Heat shooting guard's impact was enough to bend a metal ring around the camera's lens.
"It doesn't really affect the lens too much," Diaz says. He was still using that lens during this year's finals.
But even though photographers' equipment sometimes gets battle scars, Diaz says they don't really trade battle stories. His Miami Herald colleague Charles Trainor says he thinks it's mostly the fans in the expensive courtside seats who find the falls exciting.
"Believe me," he says, "the next day at the water cooler -- or, they probably own the building that the water cooler's in -- they're probably telling people, 'Wow... LeBron James fell on my lap. ... I'll never wash that shirt.'"
Below, see some photos of the Miami Herald's David Santiago in various states of collapse with Dywane Wade.
The Florida Roundup