It’s been a long while since I drew Slam Dunk again. I’ve been real busy with a lot of things, writing, talk commitments, regular work, a lot! There are times I upload artworks in my IG for my new comics and other stuff — and some followers tell me they want Slam Dunk. It’s kind of a mixed emotion for me.
Hi, guys, I missed drawing SD too
and I know that most people follow me for this. But I’m an artist —and a fictionist, a writer too– I believe I can draw anything or write anything I want as long as I don’t harm anything. Make that anything.
There are actually many times that when I draw SD, I get more followers—flooding the numbers up. And when I post NBA illustrations, some unfollow me. It’s funny, really. I got nothing to say about that, but I just want to thank those who stayed with me even at times I don’t post anything.
Truth is I gained friends—a lot of them—since having my artist IG account. And these “friends” aren’t just regular followers who comment every now and then, we connect. We chat when we have time. We share thoughts. We wish each other good things. We ARE friends, despite not seeing each other, despite miles apart.
Posting this image of a simple Hanamichi Sakuragi in casual clothing got me a lot of “welcome back” greetings. It may just be words, but I truly appreciate it. It was very warm and welcoming, reassuring I might add. Making me want to make more —not just SD of course. I draw what I want. I know my friends will always be here.
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.
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.
I’m planning on creating an artbook for all these 🙂 Maybe a hundred page of illustrations is enough?
A lot of guys emailed me asking how can they buy my artworks. The truth is I still don’t know how. Whether to create a “store” in this site or sell the artworks somewhere—I really don’t know how those things work. If you guys have suggestions or ideas, you can email me. I just need all the help I can get. Thanks 😭
I recently came across Nintendo’s Jump Rope Challenge game on Switch. It’s weird. And undeniably fun. It’s just simple, you jump rope everyday and see your daily stats. But its cuteness really carried the appeal, in my opinion.
My Japanese buddy Yu Bamba is the creator of the Youtube channel Ballin’ with Bamba (formerly known as Timeout). Sharing our interest in basketball, the NBA and Slam Dunk, we’ve been supporting each other for a while now. His channel is about NBA and he has done many NBA documentaries in Japanese. All previous videos have English subs, while the Larry Bird and Michael Jordan feature have a separate English version.
Please check his channel out, it’s a great and fresh take on NBA stories!
The past posts, I illustrated Slam Dunk characters in NBA uniforms as how Takehiko Inoue must have imagined them. Shohoku representing Bulls, Kainan for Lakers, Sannoh for Magic. Here, I’m back with my own fictional universe of NBA X Slam Dunk, as my original post.
The first set I did was my personal fiction. What would happen if the Slam Dunk characters went pro—or more specifically were drafted in the NBA? What team would best suit them? That was my take.
This time, me, my friends and some great guys who supported the first run of the NBA X SLAM DUNK, collaborated in thoughts about how the great Takehiko Inoue—Slam Dunk author—imagined the creation of the players and teams and what they really represented.
These came up:
Guys, I regularly upload artworks like these and mostly they premiere on Instagram. Please check out and follow my Instagram, it’s a lot of fun! See you there.
The NBA X SLAM DUNK posts I had for my Facebook page and Instagram were ultra-successful. And the most popular request was Sakuragi Hanamichi on Chicago Bulls uniform. Yes, I did it for all you guys who liked, shared and made comments! You are all awesome!
The said artwork was at the previous post in this website, go check it out!
I’m posting here right now some goodies—mobile wallpapers for you to download. It’s not much but I took the time and effort required because you gave me much love. I appreciate it, guys.
Please do follow my Facebook page Art of Erik Pingol, Sports Illustrator and my Instagram account Erik Pingol for more cool artworks. Thanks, all. You are cool.
My Facebook page Art of Erik Pingolpost and Instagram posts NBA X SLAM DUNK series were really successful! Reached tens of thousands and counting! Shares were just so many for me to remember and responses in the comments were really fantastic! If you are one of them who liked, shared and made comments, THANK YOU! The responses I got were really heartwarming.
The most popular request was “Sakuragi to the Chicago Bulls”. Yes, I heard (read) you well. And when I promise, I deliver. Here’s a thank you art for all of you, guys. I love you. Sakuragi loves you as well!