For twenty three years, I sat courtside at the old Boston Garden as photographer for the Boston Celtics.

I'm in the process of creating a book about my experiences in the Garden (working title - Boston Garden: From Where I Sat)

See a large selection of my classic NBA photos and more Click Here

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Red Auerbach

I once saw an interview with Yousuf Karsh, perhaps the greatest portrait photographer of the 20th Century. You've seen his portraits of Churchill, Hemingway and many others.

There’s was something that he said that was very simple but stuck with me.
He said that his photographs captured the reaction and attitude of his subjects to him at that moment.

That helps to explain why the above photo means so much to me.

Red Auerbach savors Celtics road victory of the Philadelphia 76ers to force a seventh game of the 1982 NBA Eastern Finals.

I had a matter of fact attitude toward the many famous people that I met and photographed, but not with Red. I was conscious that I was a witness to history and valued every moment with him. I knew, sadly, that Red and the Boston Garden wouldn't always be with us. 

Even though the team had no need, at the time, for me to take this photo, Red indulged me. I knew that I had to have Red, the banners and the parquet together.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Leroy Neiman

My Mother’s Christmas cookies became the unofficial official cookies of the Boston Celtics.

My Mom was famous for her Christmas butter cookies.

Baba, me, my sister Anna and my Mother, Mary

As kids, my sister Anna and I would help to make them and we would deliver lots of tins of cookies to friends and family.

When I started with the Celtics, there was a small office staff and I thought that it would be nice to bring everyone a box of my Mother’s cookies.

After a season or two, I decided that it would be nice if the players could have some of my Mom's cookies. The front office had grown considerably, as well, and I had no appreciation of how many hours my Mom spent baking until I took over cookie production when she became ill.

Come Christmas time, the game was incidental to the Celtics staff's anticipation of my Mother's cookies.

Cedric Maxwell would eat a whole box in what seems like moments. All these years later, the first thing that he’ll ask me when he sees me is "Where are your Mom’s cookies?".

I had the opportunity to spend some time with the artist, Leroy Neiman in Boston and in his New York studio when he was working on a portrait of Larry Bird for Larry’s retirement. I was helping with photographs for him to use as reference.

Leroy Neiman and Me

We kept in touch afterward, and one day, I facetiously mentioned to him that I’d like him to do a label for my Mother’s Christmas cookies. He asked me for photos of my Mom.

My mother was very ill at the time with what was to be her final illness.

One day a package arrived. Leroy had sent me a beautiful watercolor of my Mother with a note, almost apologetically stating that this was not his usual style, but he had done something like this for his own Mother and hoped that I would like it.

I framed and presented the picture to my mother and later, did put it on her cookie boxes. I sent Leroy Mary Lipofsky's cookies for years as a royalty.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Wave to Kenny

Joyce Kosofsky

When the possibility arose that the Celtics could win the deciding game of the NBA Finals, I had to decide when to abandon my court side position and dash to the locker room.

If I waited too long, I'd never get through the crush of exuberant fans to make it into the locker room celebration.

If I left too early, I could miss critical game photos.

My strategy, in game six of the 1986 NBA Finals vs Houston, was to sprint up into the higher level seats and find my dear friend Joyce Kosofsky.

I handed her a camera, gave her a one minute photography lesson and told her what needed to be done. Joyce is not a photographer. I didn't know if she even owned a camera, but the motto on her business card, "No Problem", tells you all you need to know about her attitude and proficiency.

Joyce took the photo that you see at the top of this post as the fans crowded the parquet to celebrate the Celtics Sixteenth Championship.

That allowed me to do what I needed to do in the locker room:

At the time, Joyce was the Celtics liaison with the Boston Phoenix, who produced the Celtics Yearbooks and Championship Books. She had just enough Mussolini in her to get the publication into the station on time.

Her husband, Ken Gloss, owns the Brattle book store ( )  in Boston and is THE authority on rare books.

One of the rituals that I always enjoyed was the “wave to Kenny”. When Joyce and Ken would come to a game, she would often wander down to find me on the parquet floor while Ken would sit high up in his seat.

We would then both turn toward Ken and wave. He would wave back. I would encourage those around us to do the same. That could be fellow photographers, players, or whoever was lucky enough to be near.

“What are we doing ?”, Cedric Maxwell asked one day as he vigorously waved his arm in the direction that he'd been instructed to. “Waving to Kenny!” Joyce and I shouted.

Kenny and Joyce and Emily and Sonia

All images copyright Steve Lipofsky

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

I'm in High Places and I Know People

High Above Courtside

I spent a lot of time setting up this photo (see below) of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s last jump ball at the Boston Garden.

To make the shot, I attached my Nikon FA to the catwalk that runs across the ceiling of the old building directly over center court, using a piece of hardware called the Bogen Magic Arm.

Have you seen the original King Kong? Remember the tree trunk that the ship's crew used to cross the ravine filled with manned eating spiders? Remember Kong shaking the trunk as the men fell to an agonizing death?

That’s basically the Boston Garden catwalk.

I was lying on my stomach, high above the court, framing the photo and adjusting the camera settings. It was OK at first, but that tingly acrophobic feeling was beginning to set in.

Just when I had everything set up to my satisfaction, I saw through the viewfinder that one of the many banners flying from the rafters of the building was wafting into my shot.

I descended to court level and found my friend, one of the electricians, who shall remain nameless. He shut off all the ventilation to the building for the entire game, which calmed the air and caused the offending banner to drape motionless.

Though it was winter, Kareem looked uncomfortably hot through that whole game.


Where I sat

For twenty three years, I sat courtside at the old Boston Garden as photographer for the Boston Celtics.

I'm in the process of creating a book about my experiences in the Garden and will post some of the content here to "open out of town" before you kind readers to work out the kinks before the grand opening.

On a more or less weekly basis, I'll be posting what may become excerpts from the book here.

Each of us is witness to our own unique slice of history that will be lost forever if not shared. 
The book will be my love letter and thank you note to the old building for all the experiences and friendships that it made possible.