On June 9, 2005, the 2005 NBA Finals kicked-off with Game 1 of the Detroit Pistons versus the San Antonio Spurs championship series. Behind the scenes, the production team headed by NBA veterans Rob Baxter and Larry Sedwick was set and ready for tip-off with a lighting package supplied by Bandit Lites.
"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."
Two days before 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 VARI*LITE VL3000™ spot luminaires, six VL2500™ spot luminaires, 28 Martin MAC 2000 Wash units, eight MAC 600 units, 54 ETC Source Four® units, two grandMA 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," says lighting designer Randy 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," continues 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, and Nordstrom does not it 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," explains 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?"
The lighting crew had one day to load in and set up and a second day to complete the programming and run a rehearsal before the start of Game 1 to following day.
"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," concludes 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."
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.