I shoot a lot of basketball from Class A high school to the NBA Finals.
As photographers, we collect our favorite memories and moments from the various games we photograph.
My all-time favorite basketball game was Game 4 of the 2010 NBA playoffs between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the L.A. Lakers, which the Thunder won, 110-89. To this day, I have never been in an arena that loud, and as I sat on the baseline I could feel the energy in the building.
But, there is a new number one: Louisville versus Baylor at the Oklahoma City Regional of the Women’s NCCA basketball tournament. This game was wildly entertaining. Louisville was shooting three-points from Timbuktu, making circus layups and they were beating the No. 1 team in the country.
Louisville grew their lead to double digits. But as the game was winding down, Baylor came roaring back. With around 3 minutes left in the game, I turned to the Dallas Morning News photographer, Vernon Bryant, sitting next to me and said,
“This game is going to epic not matter what happens.”
We were either going to see an epic comeback from Baylor or the biggest upset in college women’s basketball.
The last minutes of the basketball game had all the drama a basketball fan could ask for. Technical fouls, full-court presses and last-second free-throws.
In a fit of rage over a charging call, Baylor coach, Kim Mulkey, ripped her sports jacket off and assisant coaches had to restrain her. Louisville coach Jim Waltz was called for technical foul.
There was such a flurry of activity in the last 30 seconds but I am not for sure what happened because I was busy shooting pictures.
In the end Louisville pulled off the upset and the stunned Lady Bears fell to the court in disbelief.
After the game I went to the Baylor locker to photograph the players’ reaction to their loss. Former Baylor player and Oklahoma City Thunder rookie Perry Jones III stood in the hallway outside the locker rooms to support his alma matter.
As Baylor’s Odyssey Sims returned to the locker room from her press conference she collapsed into the arms of Jones. It is a powerful moment to see this NBA player supporting the women’s team of his former college.
It is easy to say that it is just game. But seeing these players devastated after the loss, it is easy to understand how the game meant the world to them.
See all the photos here.
— Sarah Phipps