David Sherman: NBA Sharpshooter

NBA Sharpshooter

Since 1996, David Sherman has been courtside capturing NBA action as the Timberwolves team photographer.

By Dan Bell
If a picture is worth a thousand words than David Sherman has snapped off volumes of visual verbiage. As the Timberwolves’ team photographer, Sherman has chronicled every Timberwolves game - and numerous other team events - since 1996.

Top-notch NBA shooters like Kevin Garnett, Sam Cassell and Wally Szczerbiak get off numerous shots during a basketball game. But no one takes more shots than Sherman. Armed with a total of five to seven hand-held and mounted cameras, the personable Sherman takes about 500 photos during every Wolves game. From that total, about 10-15 images are posted on the NBA’s photo website for teams and media sources to use.

Photography wasn’t Sherman initial career. He worked for several years as a sales and marketing manager for a firm specializing in continuing legal education. In this job, Sherman says he learned how to deal with people and the importance of making clients happy. But he admits he also learned that he didn’t want to make it his career.

Initially photography was just a means for Sherman to record family events for himself, his wife, Julie, and their four boys: Philip, Jeremy, Ian and Caleb. But it soon led to bigger things. With financial help from a cousin, Sherman made photography his full-time profession in 1995.

“When we got kids, I got a nicer camera and started doing pictures of them, started doing their sports teams, Little League and whatever,” Sherman recalled.

“Then people started asking me to do their kids portraits and parties and that’s really how it started. I got involved with the Timberwolves when Harv (Ratner) and Marv (Wolfenson) had the team. I ended up working with Brendan Finnegan (then Timberwolves Graphics Manager) on the Northwest Athletic Club members magazine in 1994. The team photographer at the time lived in Milwaukee and there would be times where he wasn’t in town to do some shoots, so Brendan would call me. Eventually at some point I did some game shooting. The league decided they wanted to make a change in photographers and Brendan and Charley Frank (then Director of Communications), went to bat for me and really got me the job. The league was great. They gave me games to shoot, sent people in here and showed me what to do and how to do it.”

Game day is a busy one for Sherman and his assistant, Melissa Majchrzak. The duo arrives at Target Center about 2:00 in the afternoon and begins the process of placing the cameras on the basket stanchions, behind the backboard glass and even mounted on the arena catwalk 70 feet above the court. The process takes a few hours with Sherman and Majchrzak working well together. After the game, several hours are sent cataloging and transmitting photos.

“I am very lucky to have Melissa working with me,” Sherman said.”She’s an integral part of the Timberwolves photo efforts and puts in long hours before and after each game.”

Sherman was basically a rookie in sports photography when he started with the Wolves and had to learn to shoot game action. He says the biggest challenge starting out was being able to anticipate game action in order to get shots, yet not over anticipating too much and losing the spontaneity of the game. Also challenging were the many equipment needs and upgrades over the years.

“There’s been something new all along,” he said. “It’s been an interesting evolution of first getting good hand-held equipment, then adding remotes. Then I bought a little black box camera syncing system so I can shoot multiple cameras at the same time. Then came digital. With digital, you know within minutes whether you got the shot or not, versus waiting the next day with film. It’s good because you really can see what you’re doing, you can make adjustments.”

One constant has been dealing with NBA players and establishing a rapport with them. Sherman says the secret is like any other relationship - treat people with respect.

“I just try to treat them like professionals,” he said. “I try to give them respect and that’s really all I want back.”

Having the respect of team star and leader Kevin Garnett has helped Sherman be accepted by others on the team.

“What’s been really nice is the consistency of having Kevin (Garnett) here,” Sherman said. “Obviously Kevin’s been wonderful for the team, and he’s been really good to me. I enjoy KG. I enjoy his humor. He’s great to shoot. I’ve benefited from him being here.”

Sherman has gone from a rookie in 1996 to become one of the league’s more accomplished shooters. He’s been invited to shoot the All-Star Game the past three years and worked his first NBA Finals last year in Detroit - assignments that only a few NBA photographers get.

A gig as an NBA photographer is a plum one - and Sherman is well aware of his fortunate situation.

“I still pinch myself when I’m sitting on the court and think, ‘I’m shooting NBA basketball!’ I’m still just really excited about the work and the people and the atmosphere. It’s exciting for me to be included in this really select circle of people who work for the Timberwolves, who work for the NBA. It’s a small club and I’m still really humbled to be part of it.”