The NBA just used an in-game drone camera – and I hate it SO much

NBA debuts in-game drone camera
(Image credit: NBA • TNT)

So, the NBA just used a drone to provide new camera angles during a basketball game – and I hate it with a passion usually reserved for GOAT debates.

The NBA has always been at the forefront of new technology, especially when it comes to integrating cameras and tech into broadcasts. However, flying a camera drone across the court – and across the screen of the hard camera – during a playoff game was definitely not one of its shining moments. 

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It happened during Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Semifinal matchup between the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers. At first I thought it was a huge bug flying across my TV screen, but then I realized that it was actually a drone. 

"Has some idiot fan smuggled in a drone, and decided to fly it around the arena and ruin everyone's view?" It turns out that it was actually some idiot from the broadcast team that decided to fly it around the arena and ruin everyone's view. 

Whether it was on the NBA side or the TNT side isn't really clear – but as you can see from the below video, it was horribly intrusive. (And that's just as a fan – I can't imagine trying to hoop while a drone whizzes overhead.)

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This isn't just an old man ranting and raving about newfangled camera angles. I'm actually a huge fan of camera innovations in sports – I'm one of the few people who fondly remembers the original XFL for innovations like the Bubba Cam and Sky Cam (though admittedly the latter was much better received). 

One look at Twitter reveals just how loathed the drone was, both in terms of how intrusive it felt and in particular the quality of the footage it delivered. 

"Can we not do the drone shots at the NBA games it looks horrible," tweeted @MoDakhil_NBA. "Please get rid of this drone," added @stanleyfung4. "Or at least get one that can record in 60fps. This is a disgrace #nbaontnt @celtics @NBA"

Thankfully, the experiment was shortlived – after a couple of quick first quarter appearances, the drone only popped up again briefly in the second. 

Hey, NBA / TNT: having a drone flying across the court looks awful for live fans and viewers at home. It's also just begging fans to start bringing their own drones into the arena. And if you can't use a drone that shoots at a sufficient resolution or frame-rate, the juice isn't worth the squeeze. 

Points for effort, but please send this idea back to the G League for more seasoning before bringing it back to the big stage. 

If this article has been of interest, you might be interested in the best indoor drones, or perhaps the best FPV drones – or if you've never tried one before, check out the best drones for beginners.

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James Artaius

The editor of Digital Camera World, James has 21 years experience as a journalist and started working in the photographic industry in 2014 (as an assistant to Damian McGillicuddy, who succeeded David Bailey as Principal Photographer for Olympus). In this time he shot for clients like Aston Martin Racing, Elinchrom and L'Oréal, in addition to shooting campaigns and product testing for Olympus, and providing training for professionals. This has led him to being a go-to expert for camera and lens reviews, photo and lighting tutorials, as well as industry news, rumors and analysis for publications like Digital Camera MagazinePhotoPlus: The Canon MagazineN-Photo: The Nikon MagazineDigital Photographer and Professional Imagemaker, as well as hosting workshops and talks at The Photography Show. He also serves as a judge for the Red Bull Illume Photo Contest. An Olympus and Canon shooter, he has a wealth of knowledge on cameras of all makes – and a fondness for vintage lenses and instant cameras.