L.A. Artist Immortalizes Lakers Basketball Through Unique Artwork

In September of 2010, Norice was contacted by Nabil Nathie, a marketing representative for Universal Records and a lifelong, diehard fan of the Lakers. The two had worked together previously on pieces for Nathie’s job at Universal, but this time – it was a personal order. Nathie wanted something that would capture the essence of being a supporter of the Los Angeles Lakers franchise. He decided on a painting; however, instead of the traditional canvas, he wanted the paintings to be spread across skateboard decks. Unusual, yet innovative and creative – just like the players he wanted to capture on the skateboard decks.

“Honestly I just wanted to show my love for the Lakers,” said Nathie in response to how he came up with the idea. “I was debating whether or not to have [Norice] come in and paint it on the wall, but my fear was that if I move, I can’ take it with me. I thought skateboards would be much cooler than just the plain canvas. I was trying to think of my favorite Lakers of all time and the game changers of the franchise. And of course, Chick Hearn- because to me, he’s just as much of a Laker as all of those other guys.”

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The project, which took approximately four months to complete, is comprised of 10 skateboard decks with life-like portraits of Laker greats- begininning with Jerry West, then moving on through Elgin Baylor, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, James Worthy, Shaquille O’Neal and ending with Kobe Bryant. Additionally, Norice also added in former Lakers’ head coach, Pat Riley (who won five rings with the team during Showtime in the 1980s), and current head coach, Phil Jackson. Situated above West, Baylor and Chamberlain is the image of the first championship trophy won by the Lakers in Los Angeles during their historic 1971-72 season. But even more notable is the face of the late great Chick Hearn, who was the Lakers play-by-play announcer for 3,338 consecutive games since beginning in November of 1965. Placed above Jabbar, Magic and Worthy, Hearn is considered to be one of the most influential figures in Lakers’ history.

“I knew I was doing it for one of the top Laker fans that I know,” said Norice. “I knew that I had to give my all with detail in each and every character. Especially when you get into the memory of Chick Hearn and all of the other players on there. Give him what he wants. He’s the fan and knows more about each one. It’s kind of like doing a family portrait or painting someone’s grandmother – because in the beginning I was going to give him a little bit of that and just give him a taste. But about mid way through doing Jerry West, I thought: let me give him a really good piece. From that point, that’s when I got into the research and finding out their greatest pose – like Magic, he’s about to make a no-look pass; or Jabbar, he’s doing his famous sky hook. I specifically put Kobe at the end, because it creates the sense of to be continued, and he’s the only one wearing a white jersey.”

While Norice admitted to not being a Lakers fan, his basketball allegiance did not prevent him from creating one of the most unique and outstanding pieces of art. Originally, the piece was only suppose to be spread across five boards; but Norice’s creative mind felt that such a project should not be limited to such a small area, and it ended up spanning over 10 skateboards.

“If you’re going to do it, you might as well knock out ten,” said Norice on why five boards was not enough representation for such a great franchise. “I could have done the same timeline in five, but everyone would have been kind of small. To me it wouldn’t have gotten the proper representation that it deserves. You’re covering one of the greatest, if not the greatest franchise in the NBA. So, you can’t just give Magic a little section – you gotta put everything in there. A lot of guys on this board have definitely changed the game of basketball. People have grown up watching these players and it’s their dream to be like Magic or be like Kobe. To me, Kobe deserves 10 boards by himself, of just highlighting his career. Same with Magic and Shaq.”

Next: The Process

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