By Ken Reed

Dear Adam Silver:

With today’s technology (read: 200x zoom capability), there is absolutely no reason photographers and cameramen should be camped out a few feet from the basketball action underneath the baskets.

In fact, it’s absurd that this archaic tradition continues. And it almost cost you, the league, your television partners, and the Cleveland Cavaliers the services of the greatest player in the game today, LeBron James, on your league’s biggest stage.

James was fouled hard by Golden State’s Andrew Bogut, and was sent flying into a pile of photographers and cameramen underneath the Cavs basket, in game four of the Finals. He received two ugly gashes from colliding with a camera. The head cuts dazed James and later required stitches. King James was able to continue but who knows how much it affected his play from that point forward.

The point is, it never should’ve been an issue because the camera and its operator never should’ve been sitting under the basket.

Players and coaches have been complaining about this practice for years.

In 2013, San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich had this to say on the topic:

“It’s a danger waiting to happen. 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. Somebody of stature is going to get seriously hurt by one of those guys, and then all hell will break loose.”

Mr. Silver, I think you would agree that Mr. James is indeed “somebody of stature.” I’m sure you’re grateful that James wasn’t seriously hurt, but what about next time?

In 2014, your league cut the number of photographers along the baseline in an effort to improve player safety. The move didn’t go far enough because there are still too many photographers and cameramen under the baskets. All photographers and cameramen need to be moved to a perch away from the court. Today’s high-tech cameras can handle the adjustment.

At the time of the 2014 changes, NBA president of operations Rod Thorn said, “We will continue to examine this to ensure the safety of our players while at the same time allowing for the networks and media to properly capture images from our games. We feel we have balanced those needs very well but will continue to review our processes ….”

Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think risking losing a star player at the pinnacle of the season — or even during the regular season for that matter — is balanced by a few more close-ups for the NBA’s media friends.

So, Mr. Silver, here’s hoping you seriously “review your processes” on this issue.

The sooner the better.

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


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