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One of the most controversial changes the Spurs made in the '89 - '90 season was the trade sending Maurice Cheeks to the Knicks in exchange for Rod Strickland. For those of you who may have forgotten or never knew, Strickland was a young, top ranked point guard with a well deserved reputation for being hot-headed and as a rebellious troublemaker off court. (Side note: Sadly, he was moved from an assistant coaching to a basketball administrative position at Kentucky last year (2010) after a DUI arrest. It doesn't sound like he's changed much.) I sure didn't see him as a good fit for the team, but I was paid to take photos and keep my mouth shut, so I never voiced my opinion.
Strickland was brought to San Antonio with great media fanfare. He was scheduled for his first practice with the Spurs shortly after his arrival so he could immediately start in the upcoming home game. The practice was completely closed to all but the Spurs' employees who needed to be there. This highly secretive practice was said to be closed in order to prevent any possible media leaks prior to the game of the team's strategy for using Strickland.
Keep in mind, I was contracted to do photography directly by and for the Spurs. I wasn't working for any media outlet. The front office decided to have me photograph this closed practice to have documentary photographs for future promotional use. I agreed explicitly to only provide the photographs I took at the practice to the Spurs, who would retain sole, exclusive rights to their use and distribution. In other words, I was sworn to secrecy along with everyone else at the practice.
I met the Director of Media Relations (this is the current job title; it had a different title back then) at the entrance to the gym and he escorted me inside. I had been photographing college volleyball and basketball in this gym since it was built, knew every nook and cranny, and was very much at home. It was, however, still a very new facility for the Spurs. While I got my camera ready, the media director and I talked briefly about the differences in photographing in the gym versus the Arena. The light was much brighter in the gym making it easier for photography.
The players and coaches were wandering in and the players began warm-ups on their own. Coach Brown came in and briefly greeted the two of us. The media director went with him to the other side of the court. I began snapping photos of the players as they took warm-up shots and joked around with each other. When Strickland came in, I snapped a pic of him. He went straight to Coach Brown. They began talking and I snapped a pic of the two of them.
Preview: From my point of view, I could have cared less…
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Correction: The original version of this story incorrectly stated that Rod Strickland had been fired as an assistant coach at Kentucky following his DUI arrest.