Within 18th century Japan, multi-color woodblock prints were popular and common objects that were mass-produced and collected by the city’s population. While today we admire the prints for their beauty and craft, they were seen less as precious artworks in their original context. A wide varieties of subjects were shown in these woodcuts; but two of the most popular were that of kabuki theater actors and sumo wrestlers. Wrestling and theater being the two most popular forms of public entertainment, woodcut prints acted very similar to memorabilia; their images portrayed the famous actors and athletes of the day.

Fast-forward to 1970’s America and trading cards are among the most popular and accessible form of printed media. The American Basketball Association (A.B.A.) is a professional basketball league running alongside the N.B.A. which (in the words of Sports Illustrated) "valued big hair, flashy dunks, and second chances." The players shown in these woodcuts were members of the eccentric A.B.A.

Using the imagery of the A.B.A, these woodblock prints are meant to resemble, both in function and appearance, 18th century Japanese woodcuts. Beyond their similarities in function, the prints were created as an exercise to learn more about formal and technical qualities of Japanese woodblock printing, and the A.B.A. 

Julius Erving
Marvin Barnes
Artis Gilmore
Louis Dampier
Connie Hawkins
BASUKE