The United States Sports Academy unveiled the latest addition to its Sport Sculpture Park on 22 September 2009, “The Basketball Player,” by Bruce Larsen, the Academy’s 2009 Sport Artist of the Year for Sculpture and a resident of nearby Fairhope.
Larsen, a Found Object artist who creates sculptures from materials such as driftwood, rusted appliances and pieces of metal, now has four pieces of work on display in the Academy’s Sport Sculpture Park. The others include “Arnold the Weightlifter,” “Borzov the Sprinter,” and “Nastia the Gymnast.”
The sculpture serves as a memorial to late Sport Artist Ernie Barnes, who passed away 27 April 2009. Barnes was the Academy’s first Sport Artist of the Year in 1984, and also won the award in 2004. He is the Academy’s only two-time winner. Barnes’ painting “High Aspirations” was Larsen’s inspiration for his work, which includes a long-legged basketball player shooting a ball into a basket.
The event also marked the kickoff of a worldwide balloting process to name the player. USA Today and NBC Sports have assisted the Academy in distributing the ballot to the world through their websites. A list of 15 NBA stars past and present, national and international has been selected. The winner of the balloting will have the sculpture dedicated in his honor. Voters may also write-in the name of another player if they choose. To vote, visit the Academy’s website at http://ussa.edu/ballots/basketball-player.
Future plans for the Sport Sculpture Park include the commissioning of more sculptures dedicated to other all-time greats from a variety of sports. Future sculptures and those they honor will be chosen based on worldwide balloting.