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Capturing Those Shining Moments

NBA Finals: Crews for NBA Entertainment go extra mile to document everything they can.


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Brent Musburger and Jack Ramsay are previewing Game 3 of the NBA Finals, breaking down the matchups. Musburger stops and looks up for approval.

It's good. NBA Entertainment got it. There isn't much the six to 20 camera crews miss during the Finals.

They're in the locker rooms, training rooms and team buses. By the time the series is over, NBA Entertainment estimates it will have shot 400,000 feet of videotape and 300,000 feet of film.

"For us, historically documenting everything is the most important thing we do," said Paul Hirschheimer, NBA Entertainment's vice president for field production. "That's what we are. We're the history of the NBA. If we don't get it here tonight, it's gone forever. That's our job every day, but in the Finals it's magnified. If you miss the moment of the series, if Shaquille comes with his thunder dunk, it's gone forever. That's why we do everything we can."

Obviously, not all the footage can be used. And the nature of the NBA Finals, with their sudden conclusion and necessity for a quick turnaround time, means that they must prepare for both teams to win the championship.

Because the finished product includes footage shot throughout the playoffs, the preparation and film-gathering begins in the early rounds. That made this year tougher than ever.

"You look at the balance of the East, you had no idea who the Finals [teams] were going to be," Hirschheimer said. "Sometimes you can make a guess that maybe the eight seed is not going to make it, but not this year.

"In some cases, the team that doesn't win the title, we still do a video yearbook on. It's not like we're wasting our efforts there. That's what our people do for a living. It's not like a network where they're focused on baseball, football. We're focused on this.

"If we do something great with the Nets and they end up not winning the title, or the Lakers [end up] not winning the title, it'll be on 'Inside Stuff' next week or it'll be on NBA TV or it'll be on 'NBA Action' or it'll be in the library. So if 25 years from now someone wants to do something on Jason Kidd, we'll have it. We don't worry about wasting. For us, everything is going to find its way to something."

Everything? There are the shots of players walking into the arena. There are crews outside the arena and around the concourses capturing the fans and atmosphere.

Kobe Bryant even smiled when he saw a sound man he recognized because, as Bryant said, if he's around it must mean the Lakers are in the Finals.

So the Lakers aren't just trying to finish the three-peat. They're trying to complete a film trilogy.

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