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from The Great Debate:

LeBron James, the best basketball player on the planet, is taking his ball and going home

RTR3TIJS.jpg On Friday, LeBron James announced his decision to return to the Cleveland Cavaliers, spurning the Miami Heat and sending shockwaves through the NBA. For Cleveland, a sports town routinely snakebitten, it’s hard to overstate the importance of this moment. When James, famously took "his talents to South Beach” in 2010, jilted fans burned jerseys in the streets like letters from an ex-girlfriend. Traitor, they called him, and much worse. The team’s owner penned a childishly angry, all-caps Comic Sans letter condemning the Akron, Ohio, native.

None of that vitriol went away as James won two titles with Miami and became the undisputed best player in the game.

But now he’s back, and with James and rookie Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel, Cleveland has arguably sports’ two most-talked-about athletes. The spotlight shines bright on Northeast Ohio, where, as James said in his announcement through Sports Illustrated, “nothing is given. Everything is earned. You work for what you have.”

The politician in James understands the need to coax the community back to embracing him, but from the looks of the spontaneous public celebrations throughout Cleveland, he needn’t have bothered.

He’s been welcomed back with open arms.

With James on the court, the Cavaliers instantly become a favorite in the Eastern Conference. Surrounding James is all-star Kyrie Irving, Anthony Bennett and rookie Andrew Wiggins. All four of them No. 1 overall draft picks, and none of them has reached their full potential.

from Breakingviews:

Clippers may actually be Ballmer’s least-bad deal

By Jeffrey Goldfarb
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

The Los Angeles Clippers may actually be Steve Ballmer’s least-bad deal. That’s not saying much given the former Microsoft chief executive’s acquisition track record. But television revenue means sports teams are no longer money pits. Even including the ego premium in the $2 billion price tag, buying the NBA franchise could work out better than aQuantive, Skype or Nokia.

from The Great Debate:

In defense of the NCAA

As the annual March Madness basketball tournament returns, so does our collective ambivalence toward college sports operated by the NCAA. Many find it outrageous that with so much money at stake, the players aren’t paid.

This debate normally leads to two different solutions: either pay student-athletes and acknowledge their true status as university employees, or focus on universities’ true purpose -- education -- and only admit academically qualified students, effectively ending Division I college sports as we know it. Supporters of the latter argue we should drop the charade that these players are amateurs, and replace the NCAA with a minor league for football and basketball, where players are paid.

from Photographers' Blog:

NBA goes up in smoke in Mexico

Mexico City, Mexico

By Edgard Garrido

I was to photograph an extraordinary basketball game between the Minnesota Timberwolves and the San Antonio Spurs as part of the NBA Global Games schedule for the 2013-14 season.

The day before, the players met with children from the indigenous Triquis tribe and played a game barefoot in the tradition of the young Triquis’ team. It was a fantastic moment and I have no doubt that the journalists and everyone present, enjoyed it as much as the young Triqui players. It was a delightful opening to a grand game to be played the next day.

from Tales from the Trail:

Air Obama: President’s re-election campaign goes Dream Team

President Barack Obama’s campaign fundraising “Win a date with a celebrity” lottery has gone Dream Team.

The campaign is offering donors who give at least $3 the chance to enter a lottery to attend the “Obama Classic,” a night of basketball with some of the sport’s greats -- Alonzo Mourning, Patrick Ewing, Sheryl Swoopes, Carmelo Anthony and Kyrie Irvin -- and the player many consider its greatest, Michael Jordan.

from Photographers' Blog:

Photographer in focus with courtside crash

By Mike Segar

For any photojournalist, when you cover events of any kind, be it sports or news or daily life, you really never want to be part of the story. Your assignment; to be present to make the best possible images of the events unfolding in front of you is a privilege, and ideally your only mark on the event itself is to come away with as compelling a visual record of what happened as you can under the byline REUTERS/Mike Segar…

However, sometimes… you just can’t get out of the way.


Photo courtesy of Richard Mackson for USA TODAY Sports

My assignment at the London 2012 Olympics along with my colleague Sergio Perez from Madrid, is basketball; 15 days of basketball games, 6 games a day, as nations compete for the Olympic Gold medal. Even for basketball lovers, that’s a lot of basketball.

from Photographers' Blog:

Shooting the perfect dunk

Kids playing streetball or millionaires performing in a highly choreographed show? Sport or showbiz? Welcome to the NBA All-Star weekend slam dunk contest.

Singer Rihanna performs during half-time of the NBA All-Star basketball game in Los Angeles February 20, 2011. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

One of the most satisfying moves to watch in basketball, and one of the easiest to photograph is the dunk, as the player soars above the rim and jams the ball through the net.

from Left field:

Heat may need a big man to take pressure off Big Three

NBA/Now that all of the hype surrounding the Miami Heat’s season opener against the Boston Celtics is over, the question remains: how good is this team?

Clearly the Big Three, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, underperformed, especially the latter two, who combined for just seven of 27 shooting from the floor.

from Photographers' Blog:

Behind the glass: The secret of the remote camera

Often people I know are impressed by amazing pictures of basketball players fighting for a rebound or trying to score a basket, taken from behind the glass. They always ask me from where are these pictures shot because they didn’t see a photographer in the area. The answer is always the same: a remote camera!

Turkey's Ersan Ilyasova (behind) battles Slovenia's Gasper Vidmar during their FIBA Basketball World Championship game in Istanbul September 8, 2010.          REUTERS/Sergio Perez

Probably everybody in the business knows how to set up this type of camera, but for people outside the industry, it can be a mystery. The first thing to know is the equipment required: aside from a camera and a wide lens, other items needed are two magic arms, a piece of black paper to avoid reflections, a pair of radio transmitters and steel cable to secure the elements.

from Tales from the Trail:

Obama plays hoops with NBA stars

President Barack Obama wrapped up his 49th birthday bash with perhaps the ultimate gift for a basketball fan.obama_basketball

Someone arranged for Obama to play  hoops with a "dream team" of NBA stars -- past and present -- (and UConn Huskies superstar Maya Moore) at Fort McNair, a short distance from the White House.

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