I was going through some old newsphotos in my files and came across this. (above)
I shot it on assignment for the New York Times on Dec. 7, 1988 following the Miami Heat’s loss to the Sacramento Kings. The Heat were well on their way to an 0-17 start in their inaugural season, an NBA record.
The Times asked me to get photos that showed them playing badly.
The Heat were losing all of their games because the other teams were scoring more points. I wasn’t sure how one or two images could convey that.
I guess I could have waited until the game was over and shot the scoreboard but I don’t think the photo editors at The Times would have appreciated that.
So I shot game action hoping for a telling moment…some kind of picture that would sum up the Heat’s dismal first season so far. I got a shot of coach Ron Rothstein ranting on the sidelines and looking frustrated.
After the game I wandered back to the locker room, not really sure if there was a picture that would tell the story.
One of the players was being interviewed and the light from a TV camera was spilling onto center Scott Hastings who was on a bench caught up in a private moment. I immediately focused on him with an 85mm lens and banged off a few frames. I don’t even think he knew I was shooting him.
I do remember Rony Seikaly shooting me a nasty look.
The story of the Heat’s wretched performance ran in the Times two days later with the photo of Hastings as the main picture.
It’s hard to say by looking at the photo if Hastings is really shedding tears and I never said so in my caption. But he’s certainly not happy.
However the photo didn’t sit well with Heat honchos. I learned later that they had instituted a rule as a result of my photo that forbade entry by still photographers into the locker room without a special credential. Also forbidden was the taking of photographs of players without permission.
A week after the game against Sacramento the Heat would get their first win against the Clippers in L.A.
The Heat went on to post a terrible 15-67 record that first season.
Pat Riley’s record this past season. 15-67!!