Legendary NBA photographer Andrew D. Bernstein has snapped some of your favorite photos that has graced magazines like Sports Illustrated.
Speaking of Magic and Bird, on a recent episode of the Scoop B Radio Podcast, Bernstein broke down how the Lakers’ Showtime era gave him a very big break.
Check out the Q&A from our interview on the Scoop B Radio Podcast below:
Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson: I spoke to retired player Tim Thomas recently and he told me about the first time he met Michael Jordan it was in high school. He was really close to Scottie Pippen he said that the Bulls were playing the Knicks. Scottie and his agent bring him in this hotel and it’s a window with all these people peaking trying to see Michael all of a sudden it was like 10 security guys walking and they came out of nowhere.All were walking with him just to get in a car that experience as a 17 – 18 year old kid just never left him he said Magic, Isaiah , and Michael were the guys that had that it was just an air about them. That was just unmatched.
Andrew D. Bernstein: If you fast forward to today i saw it with Kobe and Shaq. LeBron and Steph Curry. As much as these guys want an original life they really can’t. They Are recognized ad in today’s which is the social media age it’s impossible. I can’t even imagine going out to the movies with his family without any security. It’s just the nature of the time that were living in. It’s kind of unfortunate if you think about it but if you think about it it’s pretty incredible that you can be that famous that you have to have that type of security around you.
Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson: You as a photographer could you imagine starting your career now versus back then when you started?
Andrew D. Bernstein: Well that’s an interesting question Scoop because the answer to that is yes and no. I couldn’t have had the career I’ve had the same way that my career progressed starting back in the early 80’s. Now because the marketplace is so syncutied with photographers or people who think they’re photographers. But the other side of that is there’s a lot more opportunities now for a photographer with social media and with the players wanting to have their entire careers and their lives documented. So I try not to encourage I have interns I teach inspiring photographers, I don’t encourage them to be like me because I’m a dinosaur, what I do is fading out. It’s about to go away but that doesn’t mean that photographers and the great documentaries they’re will actually exist more now than it ever has. But people today have to realize that they have to take different avenues into business and to make it a career. My career path was to get credentials to go into arenas then get into a magazines. Then get hired God willing by a team, product, or corporate sponsor it’s different. Sports illustrated is hanging on by a thread where that was the gold standard. My dream coming out of college was to get published in Sports Illustrated and B God willing get the cover of Sports Illustrated. That was like the holy grail. Now it’s all about engagement and likes. You have to have a following things change. So, I hope that answers your question.
Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson: You’re a photographer I’m a journalist and you kind of hit something on the head everybody wants to be a photographer, especially a celebrity photographer but maybe the work isn’t there. I think that even ties into hip-hop they’re not really doing the right thing. Before you started in the NBA, what did you do to hone your craft?
Andrew D. Bernstein: Well, my dad bought me a camera and I was in high school. My friend of mine had a dark room in his basement we lived in Brooklyn. I really saw the magic of photography happen in that dark room. It’s one thing to take the picture but to see it materialize in front of your eyes with that pale light in the dark room, it’s truly magical. I can still picture it now. I went to a big high school not really sports. All kinds of stuff I went to the University of Massachusetts big college they had a daily newspaper which I gravitated towards and worked a lot at that newspaper. Became the assistant photo editor my freshmen year. But I wasn’t learning the craft of photography the science of it. It was sort of learning on the job I needed something to get ramped up so I transferred to another college. They were heavy oriented in tv ads at the time. Photo journalism was not on their scheme. But I knew I could get the science from there. I was discouraged from being a photographer. I’m a Brooklyn guy you can’t do that. I had the desire and the will to do something about it. That’s one thing and they saw something in my eyes in my talent really pushed me to not get discouraged like the school was trying to do. One of my teachers let me link with a guy from Sports Illustrated and I worked with him I just fell in love with being on location going from one sporting event to another. All sports and everything it had to do with it and I was still in school. I learned about lighting in arenas for sports like basketball and hockey. These big clashes and that was always a great technique for me that only Sports Illustrated was doing. Only a handful of people in the country knew how to do it and I saw an opportunity there. Traded pictures for access for arenas or credentials. It caught the guys at the Forum. When the NBA came to town for the all-star game I was just starting to get my feet wet as a young sports photographer and they hired me to be their photographer for that all-star game it wasn’t the weekend just a game in 82. I was at the right place at the right time and that’s where things kind of took off. A lot of will to make it in the business and then shortly after thatI became the Dodgers team photographer in 84’.
My career took off showtime era was in full swing, Lakers/Celtics rivalry, long and behold in 85’ I got that first Sports Illustrated cover which really affirmed to me that I’d made it in the business. I deserved to be there. They can’t take that cover from me. Still my favorite part of my career was when I heard I got the cover and when I saw that cover on the news stand it blew my mind honestly.
Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson: That’s a once in a lifetime type of feeling. How many copies did you actually buy for yourself?
Andrew D. Bernstein: I probably bought like 30 honestly and I had to go to a few different news stands just to get it there’s a very famous newsstand in Hollywood I think it’s still there. You go there to get any magazine or newspaper from around the world I knew that they had it. I’d go there every Tuesday to get Sports Illustrated. I went there they had 10-12 copies and I bought them all. Send them off to my family, I still probably have like 5 or 6 left. It was such a great moment.
Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson: I had Gary Vitti on my podcast. He said Kareem Abdul Jabaar was the best NBA player or athlete to play period. He put he put him on Michael and on Tom Brady’s level.
Andrew D. Bernstein: I would agree with that I mean Kareem played what 22-years is that right. Never had a major injury played a physical brand of basketball. You could imagine the guys Artist Gilmore, Nat Parish, didn’t he play against Wilt back in the day.
Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson: He did maybe as a rookie.
Andrew D. Bernstein: I think he got to play against Bill Russell back in the day it was a lot the game was a lot more physical. He was big on yoga before anyone even knew what yoga was. I would probably agree with Gary. He was so emotionally involved and connected with these guys. Training, rehab, and recovery. Kareem was an interesting dude man. He could’ve played for 30-years if he wanted to.
Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson: People say that about Vince Carter. That he could play another 10-years.
Andrew D. Bernstein: Yep. Which is crazy when you think about how Vince played his entire career above the rim. It’s different if you’re a Steph Curry or James Harden. A shooter as opposed to somebody who’s putting his life on the line when he goes to the basket. I think Kobe figured that out like two thirds through his career that he just could be dunking five or six times a game. At some point he’s just going to get hammered. Vince has done the same. He can still dunk at what 41 or 42 it’s remarkable to see.