What makes a great work of art? It is crafted strong, it captures the emotions of a single situation or even a whole life, it draws the viewer into this feeling and lets him discover new, amazing details again and again. This applies to the famous paintings of art history as well as the iconic photographs of the last 100 years – and it applies to the photo from the Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, which is currently going on around the world.
Shot by Canadian sports photographer Mark Blinch in the match between the Toronto Raptors and the Philadelphia 76ers in the North American basketball professional league NBA. Blinch pressed, as they say, at just the right moment on the trigger and has captured a moment that lies somewhere between art and reality: horror, tension, wonder and joy are reflected in the sharpest to the last pixel sharp photo, the just so many people excited.
NBA: Photographer Mark Blinch manages the sports photo of the year
You do not have to know the story behind this picture, but it helps. This also has the photo of Blinch in common with the great works of art: one can inspire oneself as a naive observer for it. But it also has, as it were, a background story, and those who know it can fathom it even better.
It's the final seventh game to qualify for the NBA semi-finals between the Raptors and the 76ers, with 90-90s before the end, with Kawhi Leonard having recently given away an important free-throw for the Toronto team. Then, in the last second before the end of the season, Leonard throws again from the right. The ball jumps four times to the ring, fractions of a second become eternities, then he falls into the basket. A "Buzzerbeater" is what is called in basketball – crucial points in the last game second. The Raptors move into the semifinals, Leonard becomes a hero.
A whole story told in a split second
All of this would be enough material for a legend in legendary stories of truly not-poor NBA history. But then there was this photo. We do not see anything in the picture of the whole situation around, but the faces can be read off the drama. In small details, a split second, recorded for the front pages of the newspapers the day after, tells the whole story.
The hero of the evening almost disappears into the picture: Leonard is the squatting player in a white jersey, sitting squatting with his mouth open, sitting with his mouth open, with a look between hope and anxiety. The same applies to the 76ers players in the red jerseys, who are also damned to watch and with their eyes seem to hypnotize the ball out of the basket. One man's meat is another man's suffering.
Raptors substitute Jordan Loyd (in a dark suit behind Leonard) spreads his arms as if he were about to take off, some call him the "typical guy sitting on a bench". His teammates do not know yet whether they should celebrate or suffer. And even the fans, very close to the Court, are watching with wide eyes – or looking up at the video cube, because behind the basket, the view is hidden. On the scoreboard, the 0.0 has been lit for a long time, the red border indicates that the game time has expired. More drama is not possible.
Even rapper Drake is thrilled
For the Toronto Raptors it goes in the semifinals against the Milwaukee Bucks back to zero, basketball is a fast-paced business. The photo by Mark Blinch, on the other hand, is something that remains. "This is the picture of the year," many enthusiastic fans and colleagues write on Twitter. Rap superstar Drake wrote on Instagram, he would most like to record a spontaneous freestyle song just to use the image as an artwork for it. That would actually add another, completely new facet to this work of art.