ARTS & COLLECTIBLES
An Unspoken Relationship Between
Basketball’s History and Contemporary Art.
Basketball is one of the most culturally loaded sports in the world, and where there is culture, there is a lot of history to be told.
Competitively a winter sport, basketball is played everywhere – on summer playgrounds, urban and industrial halls, school yards, family driveways, and summer camps. For the past 132 years, no other game than that of basketball has had such a cultural significance in this world. From segregation to integration, the basketball court has reflected some of America’s most significant cultural shifts.
Invented in 1891 as an indoor sports game to help athletes keep in shape in cold weather, basketball was created by James Naismith, a physical education instructor at the International Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) Training School (now Springfield College).
Like most of the United States in the early 1900s, basketball was segregated. The sport wouldn’t be integrated until 1950 when the Boston Celtics drafted Chuck Cooper, Nat “Sweetwater” Clifton signed an NBA contract, and Earl Lloyd played an NBA game.
The humble beginnings of the only major sport strictly of U.S. origin has laid the foundation for today’s multi-billion-dollar business, where rules of the original game were sold in a Sotheby’s auction in New York for $4.3 million.
Of the more than 1,000 collegiate basketball teams across all divisions of the NCAA, 68 teams play in the annual March Madness tournament today. And though basketball might not be played the same way as it was when Naismith invented it—peach baskets have been replaced with nets, metal hoops, and plexiglass blackboards—its evolution proves that the game has transcended a century.
Profits such as these inevitably attract gamblers, and in the evolution of college basketball, the darkest hours have been related to gambling scandals. But, as the game began to draw more attention and generate more income, the pressure to win intensified, resulting in an outbreak of rules violations, especially regarding recruiting star players.
In the 1980s, basketball began to dip in popularity, with drug problems running rampant among players in the NBA, and most arenas were half-empty on game nights. But players like Earvin “Magic” Johnson and Michael Jordan turned it around.
While many rules have been altered since Naismith’s original 13, including the introduction of the three-point line in the 1979-1980 season, basketball is an integral part of American culture and one of the most significant professional sports in the world, with over 2.2 billion fans.
Hoopstery tells the story of the reciprocal relationship between the sport and the society that has received it. Each hoop highlights the unspoken connection between basketball’s history and contemporary art, representing freedom, happiness, and faith. It reimagines the perspective of luxury with purpose-driven art and tells the story of the real American dream that exists in everyone.