Bird's Eye Basketball

East Lincoln vs Ashe County
Ashe County's Tommy Spagnolo, above, puts a shot up as East Lincoln's Keith Rendleman defends during semifinal game action in the NCHSAA Western Regional Basketball Tournament at UNC Greensboro's Fleming Gym on March 5.

I've long thought the coolest angle for shooting basketball was straight down over the basket (with behind-the-backboard remotes being a close second).

All too often, the action in the "paint" right under the basket gets so furious that all you can get a picture of is a jumbled bodies and flailing arms. Also, when shooting or going up for a rebound players are looking up--which results in a lot of pictures of chins and armpits when sitting on the floor.

But all that changes when shooting from above. A crowd under the basket resolves into a clear action shot where the players are looking straight at you during the peak moment in the action. Perfect!

There is a downside, of course. A big whale of a downside: shooting form above is often difficult or impossible.

There is usually no way to physically be above the basket, so the only way to get the shot--assuming you have remote camera equipment and permission--is to mount a remotely-triggered camera to the ceiling or basket supports. In many gym this is neither practical or possible, and the time involved usually isn't worth it for your typical prep game.

In arenas it's a little easier, as you usually have a catwalk in the rafters. The real trick with NBA and College games is getting the clearance. Over at Time Warner Cable Arena where the Charlotte Bobcats play, you have to rent a set of the house strobes (powerful flash units mounted in the ceiling) for $300 a day to get access to the catwalk.

So, for those of us who lack the equipment or funds to use remotes, the only opportunity to shoot basketball from above is in a gym that has a balcony or catwalk over the rim. Such facilities are a rare treat not to be passed up.

The Fleming Gymnasium at the University of North Carolina - Greensboro is just such a facility. I went there Thursday to shoot a local high school team in a playoff game, I couldn't conceal my excitement from the moment I walked in. Literally.
When you enter the gym through the main entrance you come out on a balcony that hangs out right over one basket and wraps around the top of the bleachers on both sides.
The only way I could have had more angles was if there were a clear floor that I could shoot up through!
I still had to get the more standard shots and celebration/dejection shots at the end of the game, so I couldn't afford to stay up top long, but I still managed to get a few keepers!

East Lincoln vs Ashe County
Rendleman puts a shot up over Spagnolo.
East Lincoln Wins!
East Lincoln players react as a teammate shoots a free throw with only seconds remaining in the semifinal game. East Lincoln defeated Ashe County 46-39.

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