Features

The 2005 NBA Finals
A Time To Shine
 
Published Monday, July 11, 2005
by Bryan Matthews

On June 9, 2005, the 2005 NBA Finals kicked-off with Game 1 of the Detroit Pistons versus the San Antonio Spurs championship series. But behind the scenes, lighting designer Randy Nordstrom, and the rest of the NBA production team, had already run the fast break. With a lighting package supplied by Bandit Lites, the production team headed by NBA veterans Rob Baxter and Larry Sedwick was set and ready for tip-off.

On June 9, 2005, the 2005 NBA Finals kicked-off with Game 1 of the Detroit Pistons versus the San Antonio Spurs championship series. But behind the scenes, lighting designer Randy Nordstrom, and the rest of the NBA production team, had already run the fast break. With a lighting package supplied by Bandit Lites, the production team headed by NBA veterans Rob Baxter and Larry Sedwick was set and ready for tip-off.

"My hat goes off to all the production staff involved in the NBA Finals," says Bandit Lites Vice President Mike Golden. "Watching the NBA production team go through the scramble of surveying the final team venues and then detailing their equipment needs and lighting plan was truly impressive."

On Monday, June 6th, the Detroit Pistons beat the Miami Heat to win their second consecutive Eastern Conference Championship. The San Antonio Spurs had closed out their series with the Phoenix Suns five days earlier to claim the Western Conference Championship. With the participants for the 2005 NBA Finals now in place, the championship series was set to begin on Thursday, June 9th, in San Antonio, TX.

With only two days until tip-off, two fully loaded semi-trucks parted ways and headed to Detroit and San Antonio. The lighting package for the NBA Finals consisted of 26 VL3000™ spot luminaires, 6 VL2500™ spot luminaires, 28 Mac 2000 wash units, 8 Mac 600 units, 54 ETC Source Four units, 2 Grand MA lighting control consoles, along with Electrol and CD80 digital dimmers.  

"For the finals, we used what we call our ‘medium’ rig with the VL3000™ spots and the Mac 2000 wash lights configured in a ‘U’ shape along the upstage side of the court," said Nordstrom. "We also used the VL2500™ spots as floor eye candy on rolling trusses, along with the Mac wash lights."

NBA events, such as the championship series, are an interesting compromise between crowd entertainment and a live television broadcast. Many of the NBA executives, major NBA underwriters, and about 30,000 screaming fans are packed into the excited arena, so a delicate balance must be met.

"The main goal is to heighten the excitement factor for the event as a whole with that extra pizzazz and flash," continued Nordstrom. "Then you have to be able to satisfy the television requirements as far as lighting coverage is concerned, which means controlling exposure and balance while retaining the ‘live’ feel."

Choosing the correct lights to achieve this balance is a crucial decision. A decision that Nordstrom does not take lightly.

"At the 2004 All-Star game in LA we went over budget with our lighting package, so when the 2005 All-Star game came under budget pressure, we made a lot of compromises in the lighting package that we chose," stated Nordstrom. "After that show ended, the line producer told me that he would never force me to into that situation again. He specifically mentioned the need for the VL3000™ spots, without my prompting. If producers notice the difference and can cite a brand, what more need I say?"

Once the semi-trucks arrived in San Antonio and Detroit, the lighting crew began the installation. They were given one day to load-in and set-up. As the lighting rig was put into place, Nordstrom was pleased to have VARI*LITE back on the court. "I personally feel that the VL3000™ spot is far and away the best 1200w spot fixture available; nobody else even comes close. There is no other manufacturer that I have worked with who puts out lights that matches the VARI*LITE reliability and output."

After the rig was firmly in place, they had a second day to complete the programming and run a rehearsal before the start of Game 1 to following day.

On Thursday, June 23, 2005, The San Antonio Spurs claimed their 3rd NBA championship in six years with a win over the Detroit Pistons in Game 7 of a highly excitable championship series. They did it with a complete team effort; with all members playing as one.

The same could be said for the lighting package.

"When you are lighting an arena for an event such as the NBA Finals, all the lights, lighting controls, lighting technicians, and lighting suppliers such as Bandit Lites have to work as one," concluded Nordstrom. "And this year, it was perfect. Everyone, from the NBA executives to the fans in the top row, had a great time at the games. The live broadcasts went off very well and I can’t wait till next year."


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