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I root for good pictures.

by Nate Billings Modified: April 18, 2013 at 11:59 am •  Published: December 30, 2011
Kendrick Perkins (5) celebrates along with fans and head coach Scott Brooks, right, after Kevin Durant (35), left, hit the game-winning shot as time expired in an NBA basketball game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Dallas Mavericks at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Thursday, Dec. 29, 2011. Oklahoma City won, 104-102. Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman
Kendrick Perkins (5) celebrates along with fans and head coach Scott Brooks, right, after Kevin Durant (35), left, hit the game-winning shot as time expired in an NBA basketball game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Dallas Mavericks at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Thursday, Dec. 29, 2011. Oklahoma City won, 104-102. Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman

I’m often asked when photographing sports who I’m rooting for. I always give the same selfish answer, “I’m rooting for good pictures.” It’s nice to see the local teams I cover do well because it’s good for our community and our business here at The Oklahoman and NewsOK, but what I really want are exciting plays that make compelling pictures.

Last night’s game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Dallas Mavericks put me through the typical thought process I have during a close game that would probably seem completely foreign to most sports fans. With 1.4 seconds left, Vince Carter hit shot to give the Mavericks the lead. At this point, things looked grim for the Thunder and fans were probably not feeling too great about the team’s chances, but I felt good because I had a nice shot of the Mavericks celebrating. If the Thunder go on to lose, I’ve made a compelling picture of the key moment of the game. If Oklahoma City pulls out a win, I’ve got a chance for more exciting photos.

Vince Carter (25) and Jason Terry (31), right, of Dallas celebrate a shot by Carter with 1.4  seconds left to give the Mavericks a 102-101 lead in the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Dallas Mavericks at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Thursday, Dec. 29, 2011. Kevin Durant hit a shot as time expired to give Oklahoma City a 104-102 win. In the background is Jason Kidd. Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman
Vince Carter (25) and Jason Terry (31), right, of Dallas celebrate a shot by Carter with 1.4 seconds left to give the Mavericks a 102-101 lead in the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Dallas Mavericks at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Thursday, Dec. 29, 2011. Kevin Durant hit a shot as time expired to give Oklahoma City a 104-102 win. In the background is Jason Kidd. Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman

Kevin Durant’s buzzer beater made the above photograph worthless for the next day’s paper, but provided some nice reaction too.

Oklahoma City fans react after Kevin Durant (35) hit the game-winning shot as time expired in an NBA basketball game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Dallas Mavericks at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Thursday, Dec. 29, 2011. Oklahoma City won, 104-102. Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman
Oklahoma City fans react after Kevin Durant (35) hit the game-winning shot as time expired in an NBA basketball game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Dallas Mavericks at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Thursday, Dec. 29, 2011. Oklahoma City won, 104-102. Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman

Part of being a sports photographer is sometimes making good pictures that end up being worthless because of the outcome of the game. Sometimes what we wish could be the play of the game just turns out to be another dunk, turnover or touchdown, a nice shot graphically without much meaning to the story of the game. Lucky for me, in the process of ruining the need for my Dallas celebration shot, Kevin Durant gave me the opportunity for some new nice pictures.

If you’ve got the time, check out this photo gallery from the game.

-Nate Billings

 

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by Nate Billings
Photographer
Nate Billings never planned to become a photojournalist. He took pictures as a hobby growing up and worked as an assistant for his father, a commercial still and video photographer, but chose to study English Literature in college. Billings did...
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