David Liam Kyle's: Story Behind the Shot - "Why? My First SI Cover"

January 03, 2024

 

Why?

My First Sports Illustrated Cover

Getting a cover as an SI staff photographer is special back in the day. To get a cover as a freelance photographer is enormous. I am honored that one of my photographs is included in the fifty MJ covers. This is how it happened.

THE PHONE CALL

Michael Jordan had just announced his retirement from the Chicago Bulls for the first time, and I received a call from the basketball photo editor at Sports Illustrated. He was looking for a specific image of Michael walking away. He asked me if I had any shots like that, and I immediately said yes. The editor was surprised I answered quickly and wanted to know how I knew I had the picture. He asked several times. "Are you sure? Are you positive?" I said, "Yes, I am positive." Then I explained how I knew I had the shot. It was Friday, and Sports Illustrated needed the color transparency ASAP, so it went to Federal Express for Saturday delivery. The editor said he would call me Monday night if I got the cover.

STORY BEHIND THE PHOTOGRAPH

I was photographing the Bulls against the Cavaliers. Michael Jordan and the Bulls were having a rare off night, and Jordan tried to take over the game in the fourth quarter. Jordan was called for traveling as he made a move to the hoop. Jordan held the ball during the stop-in action, so play could not resume. Allowing him to have a one-sided conversation with the referee. The other players were down the court as Jordan finished speaking with the ref. Michael then started to walk away from the referee and me as he dropped the ball around the free-throw line. I noticed a nice, clean shot and thought it would be a great photo when he retires and walks away from the game. I envisioned the layout as I took the picture. It's not a great action shot, but one that tells a story. Something that no one even thinks of shooting. Right after that play, Ed Nahra (aka the "Super Fan"), who was sitting courtside, holds up a Michael Jordan Wheaties box and yells with his big profound opera voice, "What's the matter, Michael...Didn't eat your Wheaties? Still steamed from the traveling call, Jordan yells back at him to sit down and be quiet. (Not the actual terminology). This fueled Jordan's competitive nature, and Michael, being Michael, dominated the game in the final minutes. The Bulls win again.

MONDAY NIGHT

True to his word, the Sports Illustrated photo editor called me on Monday night. "You got the cover!"

 

(C) Copyright 2009 - DAVID LIAM KYLE

 

 

 


David Liam Kyle Thank you for visiting my blog page and I hope you enjoy my "Story Behind the Shot" series.

David Liam Kyle

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