Entering his nineteenth season of shooting NBA basketball, Nathaniel Butler is a Senior Official Photographer at NBA Entertainment. Based in the New York/New Jersey area, Butler spends most of the season shooting the Eastern Conference. Butler sat down with us to describe his winning shot of Vince Carter.
How long have you been shooting NBA games?
I entered the league as part of the infamous class of 1984. Jordan...Barkley...Olajuwon...Butler. I have shot
every NBA Finals and All-Star Game since 1986.
Which are your favorite NBA moments that you've seen?
There have been many...Magic's jr. jr. skyhook over Bird, Parish, McHale to win game four of the '87 finals, MJ's game winning shot against Utah in '98 to name just a few. It's the importance of key moments that make certain shots more memorable. You can have a great photo of someone from a pre-season game and while it is a great shot, it doesn't have the emotional impact that others may have due to the particular circumstances. Slam Dunk contests are all memorable for different reasons, especially Spud Webb in Dallas in '86. That was truly amazing.
Is this Vince Carter shot your favorite from the past season or did you have another one?
This shot of Vince Carter took home the 2001-02 Inside Stuff Rewind Challenge crown as NBA Photo of the Year.|
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images
This was one of a couple of favorites of mine from last year. There was a crazy photo of Jason Richardson taken during the slam dunk contest where he was eye to eye with the rim and looked as if he was walking on air.
Have you gotten to expect great shots every game of Vince? Is he difficult to shoot?
Vince Carter is always fun to shoot because of his raw athleticism. At any given time, he could do something out of this world. This particular dunk is great because of his elevation, body position, and the anticipation of what is going to happen next.
Do you remember the play and when you shot it, did you know it was going to be special?
This particular shot was triggered as part of a remote system that places cameras in various strategic locations throughout the arena. For this game, we used nine different cameras and this through-the-glass angle was one of them. An assistant and I usually arrive at the arena four or five hours before game time to begin the process of putting the equipment in place.
When the shot was taken, I was on the other end of the court. It is such a dynamic shot becuase the camera placement is virtually eye level with Vince as he comes in for his monster dunk. When shooting someone like Vince Carter you are fairly certain that he will make it worth your while by providing you with a few spectacular moves. On this particular play, I knew immediatetly that I had something special.
Thank you Vince!