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Boris Diaw speaks about his love of photography

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Boris Diaw poses at a Nike shoot (via ESPN.com and Nike).

These days, Boris Diaw is a bit of a punchline around the NBA because of his ballooning weight. Where he once stood out among players as a versatile big man that allowed for lineup experimentation, he's now eating up money and meals at a prohibitive rate.

However, Diaw's weaknesses as an athlete don't mean he's not an interesting person. In fact, he's getting more serious about areas outside of basketball as his play becomes less impressive. On Wednesday, ESPN's Page 2 published a lengthy piece by Theresa Manahan on Diaw's developing love of photography. Check out a sample, along with some of Diaw's work, after the jump:

Diaw -- formerly of the Charlotte Bobcats, currently with the San Antonio Spurs -- discovered his talents for snapping shots on a 2003 trip to Senegal, when he was visiting his father. He bought a beginner camera and took pictures of family, friends and the country. His face still lights up when he tells of a trip a year later on his first African safari where his interest in photography blossomed. [...]

A longtime admirer of National Geographic photographer Steve Winter's work, Diaw reached out to the man with an interest in shadowing him for an upcoming story. With a connection through the NBA, Winter last year invited Diaw for a week-long internship to India's Bandhavgarh National Park, a tiger reserve and wildlife sanctuary.

Winter had been working on the project for some nine months when he made his last trip in search of a shot of the tigers' cubs. It took three weeks to get that one shot. Diaw and Winter spent the start of their trip jumping through piles of red tape as they arrived just one day after a tiger had killed two people. The surrounding villages were up in arms and the park was almost impenetrable as the government was on tight crackdown enforcing strict security standards. [...]

"It almost seems like his vision is based in the art world because he's very knowledgeable about photography composition," Winter said. "It's almost like you forget that he's an NBA player when you're with him. He would stuff all 6-8 of him in a little one of these Suzuki Maruti Jeeps that we take out."

Diaw's nature photography is immediately impressive, but he's moving into other types, too. He's taken photos for a Nike shoot of former teammate Steve Nash and says he hopes to shoot tornadoes and polar bears in the future. Clearly, there's some hope here of making this field his new career when his playing days are over.

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A sea turtle off the coast of Zanzibar (via ESPN.com and Boris Diaw).

For now, Diaw is a basketball player, and focusing on new interests as his conditioning suffers isn't the most professional thing in the world. Yet, despite that stance, it's also possible to applaud him for branching out. Criticism and praise don't have to be mutually exclusive.

Enjoy the photos, and make sure to visit the Page 2 story for more of Diaw's work.

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A lightning storm near Diaw's home in Bordeaux, France (via ESPN.com and Boris Diaw).

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