NBA

4 years after dropping out of college, a Bay Area photographer relishes his first experience of the NBA Finals

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SAN FRANCISCO, approx. (KRON) — On Saturday afternoon, Jordan Jimenez left the Warriors team charter, happy to be back on Bay Area soil after a whirlwind week capturing the NBA Finals in Boston. Sometimes Jimenez has to pinch himself. It’s real. It really is his life.

Just four years ago, the San Bruno native dropped out of college. Jimenez had tried to go the traditional route to making his parents happy, pursuing a degree in marketing at the University of San Francisco. But his heart was not in it.

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At 20, with no formal training and not a penny to his name, Jimenez dropped out of academia to pursue photography. He knew that succeeding in this field would be difficult. He also knew that anything less than pursuing his dreams would be worse than failure.

“What I love most about photography is helping people see a positive light in the world,” Jimenez said. “I knew that was what I wanted to do.”

Jimenez didn’t want to photograph just anything. He wanted to shoot basketball.

Instead of college life where the free time for many is spent partying with friends, Jimenez spent nights and weekends at gyms in every corner of the Bay Area, photographing tournaments of the AAU, youth basketball camps and practices, often free of charge. Jimenez worked every day to get better, made connections, and then one day he was in the right place at the right time.

He met Steph Curry at an event in Oakland in 2019. And the rest is history.

“He’s an even bigger human being. Super humble, super down to earth. Even though he’s great on the pitch, luckily I got to see the side of the pitch which is even bigger,” said Jimenez, still impressed years later to have a relationship with one of the greats. hoopers of all time. .

Curry has become one of Jimenez’s regulars. His growing list of clients includes Bleacher Report, Slam Magazine, a host of professional athletes, and his number one client turned best friend: Warriors guard Jordan Poole.

The pair met when Poole was a rookie still struggling to find his way at 20 playing a man’s game. At the time, Jimenez was an aspiring 20-year-old NBA photographer, struggling to make a name for himself in an industry almost as competitive as the NBA. The parallels created a quick friendship that only grew stronger as the two rose to the top.

“It’s the craziest thing to see someone who has become one of your best friends really perform at the highest level,” Jimenez said. “It has been an insane blessing. These are all the things that we really talked about, we really showed up where we wanted to be. To see it really come to life is truly a crazy experience. I’m super happy for him.

Poole is finishing the best season of his career, averaging more than 18 points per game as a key part of this Warriors team that is now one win away from an NBA championship.

Jimenez also exploded onto the national scene in the 2021-22 season, capturing Steph Curry moments after one of his three no-look signings. The photo went viral, garnering millions of likes while being featured on almost every major sports media outlet in the United States and even around the world.

“I didn’t expect him to explode like he did. Because to be honest it’s not my best picture, it was really Steph being Steph. Like I said, this guy is a god. For him to do things like that he does, it’s just that he’s him, that’s why it went viral.

Jimenez deflects all the praise when asked about his now iconic snap, but make no mistake, anyone who sees his work will tell you he has a gift.

The 24-year-old has followed Warriors throughout the 2022 playoffs, documenting moments big and small, on and off the court. The trip to Boston for Games 3 and 4 of the NBA Finals thanks to Poole is just the latest first for the rising star.

“For me, it’s kind of a surreal experience, especially being around all these super talented people. Just being in a building [TD Garden] with such a rich history, to be able to experience that and have all the years that I’ve done, all the 7, 8 years that I’ve done for photography to really make it happen and to see all my friends compete at the highest level – it’s a blessing for sure and it’s really humbling,” Jimenez said.

Shooting an NBA championship seems like a high for most photographers. For Jimenez, this is just the beginning.

“Once I get to a different level, I can put on black and brown creatives who don’t go to the same rooms I do. My main goal is to make a difference in people’s lives,” Jimenez tells about his large-scale aspirations, “Truly believe in yourself. Because we’re all gifted in one way or another and we all have some kind of talent to share with the world.”

Bigger than basketball and bigger than photography, Jimenez says his ultimate “pinch me” moment will come when he can use his talents to open doors for others. And that kind of character is something college can’t teach.

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