Florida Keys resident Marc Serota saw his share of future NBA Hall of Famers as the Miami Heat team photographer for more than a decade. Serota never missed a home game in his tenure. He was there for the franchise’s first game in 1988. He was behind the lens for all three of the team’s NBA championships.
Along the way, he also captured memorable images of NBA superstars on the visiting teams, including three legends who were inducted in 2020 into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame – Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan and the late Kobe Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash in January of the same year.
Manopause is pleased to present a selection of Marc Serota’s portfolio on these NBA legends, along with thoughts from the photographer on how he went about his craft.
I developed a niche for shooting the big men on the floor – Rony Seiklay, Alonzo Mourning, Brian Grant, Shaquille O’ Neal and Chris Bosh to name a few. Shooting 7-footers becomes an art … You have to cover them on the perimeter with a mid-range zoom lens or down the court with a long lens in order to line them up. When shooting Shaq against KG, early in Garnett’s career, it was the best way to get both their faces and the intensity of the match-up.Marc Serota
Photographing the Kobe Bryant version of the Dream Team during the London Olympics in 2012, I knew going in that every game would be an eventual blowout. What I did not know was how gracious Kobe would be to the opposing teams while beating them by 40+ points. When team USA posted a record-breaking 156-73 win against Nigeria, Bryant had 16 points in the first 20 minutes, of which he only played 11, and was done for the night as Coach Mike Krzyzewski rested his top superstars for the second half. After the game Kobe stayed to greet the Nigerian team and sign each of their jerseys. He understood what it meant to them.Marc Serota
I remember the first game Shaq played as a member of the Miami Heat against his old Lakers team, led by Kobe … All the photogs’ eyes were on whether the two former teammates would shake hands. That was the assignment. They didn’t, as Shaq pulled away at the last moment, but I still made a picture.Marc Serota
Tim Duncan was one of those athletes you would love to photograph because, if you paid attention, Duncan would teach you something about basketball strategy every time you covered one of his games. Known as the ‘Big Fundamental,’ he emulated his head coach Gregg Popovich and his basketball IQ would expose every weakness of the opposing team’s center. During the 2005 NBA Finals against the Detroit Pistons I distinctly remember him making Rasheed Wallace and Ben Wallace – two outstanding big men in the NBA – look like rookies en route to winning the NBA championship and being named Finals MVP.Marc Serota