Mamba Week

KOBE BRYANT illustrated by Erik Pingol

Did this for the Mamba Week. I will repost here an article I wrote before.

This story is personal.

I was a Shaq fan. My earliest NBA memory was Shaq’s Magic versus MJ’s Bulls. When Shaq moved from Orlando to LA, I “moved” too. It was great. I also liked the Lakers. Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, James Worthy… and the amazing franchise. And then there was Kobe Bryant.

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!

Jones, Van Exel, Campbell were traded, that was a bit sad. The Lakers had a rebuild. Finally they went to the finals and won three championships. Kobe was a lot better a player now. He was dunking on everyone’s head. He was tough. His energy went through the roof. Though I believed, Shaq was the key, you can not deny Kobe of his contribution—he killed it when Shaq was out. The young Kobe was ripe and dunked it hard when the need rose. And they won it in fashion, 3 shiny rings.

And then there were some issues and Shaq left for Miami. I was broken, I hated that LA “sided” with Kobe, Shaq had to leave. But I remained a Laker fan. Though I cheered Shaq for his success with DWade, I remained a Laker fan not cheering for Kobe.

Years came by, frustrations, losses and all, I started drifting away from NBA. I had almost forgotten my love for basketball, and focused on being an artist. Soon after, the rise of Kobe Bryant once again. He was still dunking on people. He’s back. He never lost his heart. I just couldn’t deny him. He was bleeding himself dry to win for my Lakers. His Lakers.

Kobe lost to the Celtics—and as a Laker, losing to Celtics is crazy big deal. Be it the finals or a regular season game, no, you don’t fall to the Celtics! But he did. Yet, this guy didn’t stop. He took Paul Pierce’s image as fuel to his inner fire.

Next year he was dunking again. His jumpers are sharper. You can see how he trained his body to finally cope up with his spirit. Kobe was taking his throne without Shaq. And he did! He won the finals and dunked on anyone in front of him—hi, Dwight. The next year he faced the Celtics again and got back what he lost. What a time to be a Laker fan!

Calmer time followed. Lebron James’s rise to power took the spotlight. Injuries followed. Kobe wasn’t the young number 8 anymore. He was the number 24 with torn achilles tendon. He made the free throws and walked away. The next seasons, he returned. He was different. He was throwing airballs again and the media had a circus. Criticized. To some he was disrespected. Kevin Durant didn’t like how the media treated him. Then KB announced his retirement—his last season—he said had nothing left to give.

His last season was a tour. But his LAST GAME against the rival Utah Jazz… man… was the best last game a legendary baller, or any athlete, could ever have—60 points and a W—in a jaw-dropping fashion. He left the court with a big smile. His body could have gotten older, but his spirit was as young as that rookie who dunked on people no matter what.

Until one morning, I woke up with the saddest news of the decade.

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.

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The first images of Kobe in purple uniform are available for digital download for a very low price on my shop at etsy. While the following Kobe digital arts will be available upon request.

Thanks

Printables for Sale!

Many were asking if I was selling my NBA and Slam Dunk artworks, even like for printable images. Finally, here they are! It took me so long to figure out how to make a store here at my website but I really have no time to learn it. So, the solution is third-party e-commerce site.

I have uploaded some and still about to upload some more. Please, visit these links, my listings are really affordable. Thank you! If you’re not buying, you can just hit the ❤️ or like button—it’s much appreciated.

🤩🤩🤩

These are just mock ups. But you can also do this (on your own) when you have printed the purchased digital images.

The G.O.A.T. of Basketball

I’ve said it before. Not a Jordan fan. But why such an effort in illustrating Michael Jordan? Well MJ is the greatest of all time—the GOAT if you will—in basketball. And PERHAPS in all of sports and athletes. But there is just something in his moves that is just plain… art.

Michael Jordan

A portrait of the GOAT Michael Jordan by Erik Pingol

An art professor once told me that a portrait is not just some photograph or illustration of someone’s face. It should have the story or the character or memory that describes who the subject is. This, for me, is Michael Jordan. The hard teammate. The ultra-competitive. The proud monarch. The undefeated champion.

Truth be told, I was never a fan of MJ. I never collected his cards when I was young. I didn’t really root that much for his games, in fact I wanted my Lakers to defeat him. But my beloved ’90s era was the decade of his greatness, and it was harder not to be in awe of this certain genius.

This is the last Bulls portrait in my planned collection, and definitely one of my favorites.

Kobe v MJ

Kobe Bryant vs. Michael Jordan by Erik Pingol

After my digital watercolor exploration on the previous Shaq-Kobe piece, I got a little closer to the effect that I wanted with this one. I just need the right brush. But this is a bit close.

I just love drawing basketball shoes 😍

MJ’s Flight

Michael Jordan’s legendary slam illustrated by Erik Pingol

I couldn’t remember now how much hours I’ve spent drawing the crowd. I love giving details to my artworks, but somehow this particular one made me say I’m going to rest from drawing spectators for a while. Still, I loved it.

The photo reference I used in this illustration was shot by Nathaniel S. Butler. I’ve seen many of his NBA shots, they are as legendary as their subjects. God bless his greatness.