Andrew D. Bernstein is the man behind a pair of iconic Michael Jordan photos, and he recently shared the story of how he captured them with Esquire magazine.
Bernstein has been the NBA’s official photographer for more than 30 years and has covered the NBA Finals every year since 1983.
Bernstein has taken several photos from behind the backboard, according to Esquire, and his favorite is one of Jordan flying in for a dunk against the Lakers in 1988 at the Springfield Civic Center.
High-flyers like Griffin, Russell Westbrook, and LeBron James have provided some of Bernstein’s most memorable shots from this angle in recent years, but over the course of his career, the iconic Come Fly With Me shot of Michael Jordan in 1988 stands above the rest.
Perhaps Bernstein’s most iconic photo came in 1991 after the Bulls’ first title.
Here’s the story behind the photo:
But the most significant post-championship moment of Bernstein’s career was the picture he snuck of Michael Jordan sobbing into the trophy after his first title, his father at his side. It was an unbelievable moment, says Bernstein. The Bulls had just won their first championship. It was in L.A. in ’91. The visitors’ locker room at the Forum was tiny. In those days they did the trophy presentation in the visitors’ locker room. TV guys would be in there. All hell is breaking loose in the locker room. Just craziness. They’re on live and the commissioner is giving the trophy, the team is accepting the trophy, and then they go to commercial. They wanted to interview Jordan. They come back after commercial and they’re supposed to be interviewing Jordan, but no one can find him in this insane sea of people with all kinds of pandemonium going on. I’m standing on a little bridge table in the middle of the room, trying to get an elevated look because I’m not the tallest guy in the world. Something told me to look to my left, and I wheeled around about 90 degrees, and there’s Michael in the locker, holding the trophy with his dad next to him. I just wheeled around, boom, boom, shot two frames, and they pulled him up to the podium. It was such a crazy scene. It’s a significant picture on many levels. Of course it’s his first championship, and having his dad there. After his dad passed away, the picture became even more significant. His office actually reached out and wanted a framed copy of the photo for Michael. It meant a lot to me because my dad passed away and there were a lot of similarities between us. It continues to mean a lot to me.
The Sun-Times captured almost the exact same photo, taken at an angle just to the left of Bernstein.
You can view more of Bernstein’s photos and how he captured them here.