Longtime Hawks photographer showcases 40 years of photos

Photographer Scott Cunningham has spent the last four decades documenting the biggest events in sports and pop culture. The Atlanta Hawks, in connection with Atlanta Celebrates Photography, put some of Cunningham's most compelling work on display at the Westside Cultural Arts Center.

December 10, 1986.

Dominique Wilkins and Michael Jordan delivered two of the greatest individual performances in a head-to-head match-up. That night that saw 'Nique put up 57 points to Jordan's 41 in a Hawks 123-95 rout of the Bulls.

For many, this game is canonized in NBA history. The highlights have over 150,000 views on YouTube.

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For Scott Cunningham, it was another night sitting baseline trying to capture two of the NBA's best go at it.

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"It was so much fun to shoot a game like that, because you knew these guys... it was just their game. The other guys didn't matter."

From the Baseline: 40 Years Beneath the Rim showcases Cunningham's last four decades as the Atlanta Hawks team photographer, as well as his photographs from some of the biggest events in sports and pop culture. Hundreds of withered press credentials drape down as pictures of icons such as Whitney Houston, Dale Earnhardt and "The Nature Boy" Ric Flair neighbor each other across the walls.

He credits repetition and a little luck for his ability to snap such breathtaking shots. He smiles while standing in front of one of his favorite photos, an action shot of former Hawks forward Josh Smith going up for a slam dunk.

"Where I set my camera up and the way his body is on the dunk, it was one of my favorite pictures I've ever taken," Cunningham says. "And a lot of it was luck."

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Cunningham prides himself on the quality of his photographs. Some of his best work has been featured on the front cover of magazines like Sports Illustrated and SLAM!, as well as multiple sports trading cards.

The Hawks honored Cunningham with the two week exhibition at the Westside Cultural Arts Center. His work was curated by Michael David Murphy of Atlanta Celebrates Photography, a non-profit organization focused on photographic art in Atlanta.

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"The highlights of Scott Cunningham's photographic career illuminate some of the greatest moments, rivalries and personalities in sports," Murphy said. "From hometown Hawks heroes like 'Nique, to Michael and Magic, Scott's photographs stand the of time."

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The exhibition ends Monday, however Cunningham's work will be displayed throughout the newly renovated Philips Arena when it opens the 2018-2019 NBA season.

View more of his work in this gallery: