Basketball as Muse: Fine Art Inspired by the Sport Is Everywhere

Basketball is the Hoop Dream Studios’ muse. The sport fuels our collective fire, inspiring the creation of stunning basketball hoops that transform iconic imagery into wall art you can proudly display in your home. To the delight of fans everywhere, this combination of art and basketball isn’t limited to HDS. It’s a cultural phenomenon taking shape as we speak, with globally recognized artists taking the sport for inspiration. 

Here are a few of our favorite pieces. 

Higher Goals – David Hammons

It’s easy to assume basketball art is a relatively new concept, but it’s been around at least since the 1980s, as this installation by David Hammons demonstrates. Hammons combined the heart of the basketball court – the hoop – with thousands of bottlecaps arranged on telephone poles to create a temporary structure that stood until 1987.

The message behind the work, says Hammond, is that each of the many thousands of bottle caps used represents an aspiring basketball player who never managed to go pro. While this may make the installation seem like a monument to failure, it’s actually aspirational. Many thousands will try to aim higher, shooting for the tallest hoop in the game, and even those who fail contribute to basketball’s beauty.

The Art of the Game – Various Artists


It’s fair to say that the Chicago Bulls team of the 1990s, inspired by the brilliance of Michael Jordan, took basketball from an American pursuit to a worldwide phenomenon. The Bulls recognize the impact their team has (and continues to have) on the world, which is what makes the Art of the Game installation so special.

Held over the weekend of September 3, 2022, the exhibition pulled together amazing graffiti and street art by talented creators from 15 countries. The works were placed up for sale, supporting the artistic community in the process, with each representing a different view of the game influenced as much by the creator’s country of origin as the sport itself. It was the sort of exhibition that showcases just how far basketball has come in the world, and it’s one that will hopefully become an annual tradition during Bulls Fest.

Sport/Utility – Kevin Beasley


Kevin Beasley’s 2017 Sport/Utility exhibition gave the humble basketball jersey an avenue for social commentary. Collages made from basketball jerseys featured some of the top names in the game, including Stephen Curry and Derrick Rose. But what seemed like fairly innocuous pieces on the surface have hidden meaning. Beasley placed each jersey used in his collages strategically to demonstrate the torrid legacy that underpins black culture. For instance, Curry’s jersey was included to highlight the dark history of the spice trade and the greed that can lead to exploitation.

It was a powerful message and one that received further credit when the NBA allowed players to replace the surnames on their jerseys with words or phrases that drew attention to causes that mattered to them. As a monument to basketball’s power to inspire social justice, Sport/Utility is a masterpiece.

Ground rules. Free throw – Theaster Gates


What does a basketball court become when it’s stripped of the very function for which it was built? That’s the question that Theaster Gates asks in this challenging piece that saw her literally deconstruct the court at a Chicago gymnasium so she could rebuild the planks onto a canvas that became wall art.

This remarkable piece prompts the viewer to think about what the court truly represents to players. The wood in this artwork has spent decades under the feet of children learning to play basketball, with each plank smoothened by the passage of time and those many thousands of small footsteps. It’s a monument to the very surface that makes the sport possible, as well as a reminder of the fact that your feet will always come back to the ground, no matter how high you jump.

Hoop Dream – Artistic Expression Through Basketball Hoops

Each piece featured in this article tells a different story. In Higher Goals, we see the heights that a professional basketball player must reach to play the game at the highest level, while Sport/Utility uses the players’ names to cast light on social injustices.

At Hoop Dream Studios, we hope to make our own contributions to the increasing expansion of basketball into the world of fine arts. Our Manifest Greatness basketball hoop, for example, is a monument to one of the greatest players in the game’s history and carries a similar aspirational message as David Hammons’s 1986 work – strive for what you hope to achieve.

But in the end, basketball is still (and always will be) about the players and lovers of this great sport. Hoop Dreams helps those who are most passionate about basketball to express themselves with custom hoop designs inspired by the art of the game.