Two years ago in Houston, Jeremy Evans brought the painting just in case. The Jazz forward was defending his slam-dunk title and, just in case he made it to the second round, he’d need a prop.
His only concern was that he’d never jumped over it.
Evans eventually did make it to the prop round and he cleared the portrait with ease, though he felt the dunk didn’t get the credit it deserved.
“I don’t think people recognized how big the canvas is,” he told reporters. “It’s taller than a couple of you guys.”
On Tuesday, Evans took another leap of faith — putting a dozen or so of his paintings on display at EnergySolutions Arena for fans to see.
“I’m excited,” he said, “just so everybody can see it.”
Evans’ gallery on the arena’s concourse during Tuesday’s game against the Dallas Mavericks featured an eclectic mix of styles and subject matters. Next to a drawing of the LDS Salt Lake Temple was an airbrushed portrait of Tupac Shakur, complete with an actual diamond nose ring in the canvas.
There was a portrait of his bride, and another of NBA legend Michael Jordan.
Evans has been involved in art since he was young and has continued to work at it despite basketball taking over much of his time.
Is he a better artist than a player?
“That’s pretty tough,” he said. “I feel like I have so much to grow in both areas. I feel like I can be great at both.”
Is there a similarity between the two disciplines?
“Sometimes you get angry on the court and do aggressive things. It can go [the same] way with a paintbrush and doing things on the canvas.”
He said he rushed through a number of paintings just to finish in time for the exhibit. But he plans on slowing down and producing a few more.
“When the season’s over, I sit down for a week or two and just sit there and relax and calm down and start on a couple pieces,” he said.
Evans has impressed his teammates with portraits from time to time. During a dinner at a Macaroni Grill their rookie season, Evans completed a crayon drawing of Jazz forward Gordon Hayward.
As for his self-portrait, Evans said it is the only one he’s ever dunked over. And he believes it may be the only piece of art to be dunked over in history.
Utah: Not such a bad city after all
Dirk Nowitzki made some enemies in this town when, in a playoff series with the Jazz 14 years ago, he infamously said that “Utah is a bad city.”
But, according to the Dallas Morning News, there’s more to the story.
“We come back here for Game 2 and there was like one camera guy, and he asked me, ‘So why did you guys not stay in Utah?’ ” Nowitzki told the Texas newspaper. “I said, ‘Well, Utah is a bad city,’ meaning it’s the playoffs and we shouldn’t spend too much time there, it’s hostile. I meant going home, sleeping in my own bed is never bad. I come back here and they blew the whole thing up. They were talking about it on the TV that night already. I mean, they were trying to call my hotel room. It was awesome. Then, like I said, I came out with 90 minutes on the clock and they were already booing. Every time I touched the ball to shoot during warmups, they were booing. So that was a good ol’ time.”