Kobe Bryant views himself as an artist.
He paints beautiful images on the court with acrobatic shots and superior fundamentals. Bryant draws out a blueprint on how to overcome persisting double teams and injuries. And even if he built an extensive resume with five NBA championships and a fourth-place standing on the league’s all-time scoring list, Bryant never seems satisfied.
So it’s only natural with Bryant returning this week for the first time since shattering his left Achilles tendon eight months ago, Nike launched a nine-week campaign at its L.A> Live store that involves an artist unveiling a Bryant portrait inspired by one of his Nike shoes.
Artist Allison Hueman Torneros showcased her painting Saturday, which was both inspired by Bryant’s Nike 1 shoes of the Prelude Pack and his career-high 81 point performance Jan. 22, 2006 against the Toronto Raptors.
“I really wanted to express vision. I felt like this was an intent stare,” said Torneros, who showcased Bryant having four eyes. “I’m glad I went with this. Instead of showing a real narrative, it’s more of an emotion. You can sense his energy just through his eyes.”
Bryant’s other art work will include inspirations from his 2009 and 2010 NBA championships, 2011 NBA All-Star MVP performance, 2012 London Olympics gold medal and his Achilles injury suffered April 12 against the Golden State Warriors. There’s also other moments, such as when Bryant scored at least 50 points for four consecutive games in the 2006-07 season and his 2008 NBA Finals loss to the Boston Celtics. Those portraits will be unveiled in weekly increments.
As for Bryant’s first portrait, it took Torneros about three weeks to complete the painting in hopes of capturing the Lakers’ star’s “multi-dimensional” personality. Instead of showcasing Bryant’s on-court ferocity, Torneros wanted to show the optimistic side of Bryant that enables him to reach unthinkable milestones, such as his 81-point performance that only ranks behind Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point outburst with Philadelphia against the New York Knicks on March 2, 1962.
“A lot of my work has a lot of emotion, energy and movement,” Torneros said. “Here, you’re not just looking at him. You’re looking at this whole kind of movement. They’ve got this black mamba snake that’s weaving its way through the canvas. You have cross section of muscle and the brain. I captured his energy that he had that night.”
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