The Great Britain men’s basketball side might have finished winless at last summer’s EuroBasket in Istanbul but one British photographer secured a perfect ten.
Freelancer Mansoor Ahmed was courtside in Turkey there from the moment Great Britain began their first group game against Belgium, his tenth EuroBasket in a career that began in 1989 when he covered the Carlsberg Final at the NEC between Sunderland and Kingston.
From there, Ahmed has snapped the likes of Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and, of course, has been an ever present at every Great Britain men’s and women’s international fixture.
“I had one camera, and one lens, which was 50mm with just three rolls of film,” Ahmed said, recalling his first game.
“I was like a kid in the candy shop, all these other pro togs around me with their huge lenses and me with my small one. I was nervous, very nervous.
“It wasn’t until 1996 that I had my first picture published in the now defunct FIBA Basketball Monthly and the rest as you know is history.”
With many NBA games, EuroLeague Final Fours, FIBA World Cups and the London 2012 Olympics under his belt, it was a British Basketball League clash between the Manchester Giants and Sheffield Sharks in April 1999 that he remembers best.
With the Giants and Sharks playing for the championship, Sheffield’s Tyrell Myers stepped up on the buzzer to sink the game-winner, silencing the home crowd at the MEN Arena and handing the Sharks the title with a dramatic 87-85 win.
And Ahmed was there to capture it all with his shot of Myers published in The Independent newspaper the next day.
The thrill of capturing the action is still as passionate as ever for Ahmed as he prepares to be on the sidelines once more when GB take on Greece in a FIBA World Cup qualifier in Leicester on November 24. It’s a tough job, he admits, but he would not change it for the world.
“I get to showcase the rawest of talents, the emotions, the heartbreak,” Ahmed explains. “One minute you could be photographing jubilations and other times dejection. To me – I get to document these emotions. Every game is different. But the end goal is the same – capturing a story, a journey of an athlete.”
‘Ask any British basketball player to name the first member of the media that comes to mind and Mansoor Ahmed would be that person’
Ahmed concedes that the photography business is tougher than ever, with the world of media always changing and ways of getting pictures published becoming broader. It’s tough, but he is up for the challenge.
“With the advent of digital cameras it’s a lot easier to get started in it. I remember back then when it was film based and it was only for those that could afford it. Cost of film was spiraling and that’s not mentioning the developing costs.
“But with the advent of digital cameras, everyone thinks they can become the next big thing, which to me is a challenge as it means I have got to keep on my toes and fend off the competition.”
“If you were to ask any British basketball player to name the first member of the media that comes to mind, Mansoor Ahmed would undoubtedly be that first person,” Basketball Journalists Association secretary John Hobbs said.
“You can always rely on Mansoor to capture the heart of the action in any scenario and that comes from his attention to detail. He is always the first member of the media to arrive at the arena, setting up, and he is normally the last to leave with his head still buried on his laptop, editing and meeting his respective deadlines. He is a true professional.”