Hoopers, a community platform for basketball players and fans, Galeria de Arte Urbana (Urban Art Gallery – Lisbon’s City Council) and Lumiar Parish Council have come together to pay tribute to Kobe Bryant with the requalification of a new street basketball court on Calçada de Carriche. Next to the court, the biggest street art wall in the city will display the portraits of Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, Derek Fisher, Robert Horry and Pau Gasol, a work signed by writer Hélio Bray.
Calçada de Carriche was the spot chosen to pay tribute to Kobe Bryant, the iconic player for LA Lakers who unexpectedly passed away in January 2020 following a helicopter crash. The chosen court was the one in Rua André Gouveia, located on the border of Lisbon, Loures and Odivelas. The court is already open to the public, and the wall is the biggest one in the city displaying a street art piece (52 meters high).
The motto for Hoopers new artistic intervention project was celebrating team spirit and the Mamba Mentality, as well as Kobe Bryant. Hoopers has already put forth several similar initiatives, such as the Chicago court, in Chelas, and Europe’s largest street basketball court, which is in Braga. Besides paying tribute to the Lakers legend, this third project aims to give praise to a place that connects three municipalities of the Lisbon district and is a significant meeting point to play street basketball.
Lancelot, Portuguese rapper, is one of the many players who’ve played there all their lives and is preparing to release a new single, “O campo”, inspired by this project. Hélio Bray, one of the ambassadors of brands such as DC Shoes or Loop, and author of a tribute piece commissioned by Kobe Bryant’s family, was chosen to paint the court and what will be the biggest street art wall in the city so far.
“This is very special to the community and us. Since Kobe’s tragic death, we had this idea of paying tribute to one of our heroes, as well as celebrating the Mamba Mentality — which is associated with the resilience, hard work and irreverence personified by the Lakers legend — and positive values of sports, such as team spirit. This place always had the magical gift of bringing people together from different towns, classes and ethnicities. And that’s why that, in addition to the tribute, this legacy will live forever”, says André Costa, co-founder of Hoopers.
To Hélio Bray, “this was the largest project I’ve ever taken part in, and it gave me the chance to show different sides to my work. The connection I felt to this tribute and the story of this place thrilled me from the very start. I’m extremely happy with the final result, and I hope this project inspires the new generations”.
This project fits in the artistic intervention strategy for Lisbon in terms of requalification of public places and sports areas, which kicked off with AKACorleone’s intervention in Campo Mártires da Pátria (2019), today a reference of street art and sport. “This is a strategy we’ve been shaping in terms of appreciation of public space and promotion of sports activities, accessible and aggregative, where street art plays a pivotal role, which we feel today is absolutely crucial because of the pandemic, to create spaces for sports and artistic interventions”, states Hugo Cardoso, coordinator of Galeria de Arte Urbana.
For Pedro Delgado Alves, president of Lumiar Parish Council, “the project is yet another important sports and artistic reference in the parish, and particularly this neighbourhood, reinforcing our investment in activities and initiatives set in public spaces”.