The young Kobe Bryant was something. You gotta give him credit for his heart. His courage. A brave young man. But man, I hated him. There were times he was throwing airballs. There were times he wasn’t passing and making selfish decisions. I loved Eddie Jones. I loved Nick Van Exel. But Kobe wasn’t passing, he had to drive and dunk it on someone else because he had to be a legend NOW!
Here's my update for this project. Improved some shading, hatching, etc. I got 25 portraits now, 25 more.
When Kobe died, I couldn't take it. All of us, couldn't believe it. But that's just life, and maybe, that's just what death is too. But Kobe Bryant, he and his winning shots, he and his devastating dunks, it would echo for the whole time he represented. He just wouldn't let anyone outshine him on his watch. He just wouldn't let anyone hold him down for long. His Mamba Mentality created a generation of winners. His life was truly a legendary story.
Shaquile O'Neal was the most dominant big man of his time. He was quick, strong and wise and those can be seen in his stats—points, rebounds, blocks. This portrait was the Orlando Magic Shaq—the young Shaq that despite his tremendous power, was still working his way up the steps of NBA greatness. A rookie with crazy potential. A young man destined for the Hall of Fame. He didn't disappoint.
Great court vision. Fantastic facilitator. Sensational scoring machine. Penny will always be one of my greatest "what ifs" in NBA history.
Grant Hill. He was sensational. Good handles. Scoring machine. Good defender. He was known as Mr. Nice Guy, yet as tough when it really counted. In the time of MJ's absence, Grant Hill was seen as his successor—some in the media actually believed he could have been better than MJ. Tough statement to make.
Before Steph Curry, there was the legendary trash-talking three-point sharp shooter Reggie Miller. He made impossible shots and won seemingly impossible games. Truly, a legend from the '90s.
This, for me, is Michael Jordan. The hard teammate. The ultra-competitive. The proud monarch. The undefeated champion. I was never a fan of MJ. I never collected his cards. I didn't really root that much for his games. But it was harder not to be in awe of this certain genius.
Considered one of the greatest small forwards of all time, Pippen was named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team eight consecutive times and the All-NBA First Team three times. He was a seven-time NBA All-Star and was the NBA All-Star Game MVP in 1994.
Harper found his niche with the Bulls upon Jordan's return, eventually becoming a fan favorite by reinventing himself as a big perimeter defender, ball handler, and mid-range scorer.
Toni Kukoc was known as the Spider of Split—that is Split—in Croatia. He had been one if not the most celebrated Croatian player of his time. He was a favorite Bull of mine back in their Championship years in the '90s.
NBA Portraits of the '90s featuring Dennis Rodman by Erik Pingol
The young Kobe Bryant vs. the veteran Michael Jordan
Michael Jordan's legendary slam dunk captured in sequential illustration by Erik Pingol
The Shaq-Kobe era in digital painting
Penny's magic in the 90s in ink