When street artist Deni Bozic set off to paint the mural amateur basketball players from the northern Bosnian town of Gradiska wanted to pay tribute to late Kobe Bryant with, he figured it would be best to cover the whole wall of the primary school’s sports hall.
Six meters high and 12 meters wide, it turned into one of the largest Kobe Bryant murals in the world.
“It’s possible that it's the seventh or eight largest in the world,” the artist told Anadolu Agency.
The local club “Kosarkasi Gradiska” (Gradiska Basketball Players) wanted to pay tribute to their idol who died in a helicopter crash in January and six of them organised crowdfunding to collect enough money for a mural and the renovation of the basketball playground in the schoolyard.
They asked Bozic, who painted more than a hundred murals, to paint theirs and he started in February. He finished it this month, mostly because of the pandemic lockdown.
“This mural was the most challenging because of its size and because I painted it with one brush while standing on a ladder,” Bozic said.
Now the mural not only decorates the school but inspires many in town to come and play.
“I believe that there were fewer basketball players before the mural,” said one of the organisers of the action, Dusan Ristic.
Now, after the town came into the focus of news channels, the mural story inspired many to gather here every day to play soccer, handball and some other sports clubs have started using the facility for their training, he said.
His colleague, Igor Damjanovic, believes that now many more children are playing basketball here and that the mural will revive the whole town.
“We are planning to paint four other murals on the other side of the school,” he said.
Those will display local athletes but one is also planned to be dedicated to tennis star Novak Djokovic.
Vukasin Zdjelar said that this facility was ideal for a Kobe Bryant mural because many children from Gradiska have started their sports careers right there.
“The first basketball rules I learned here were watching Kobe Bryant. He was one of the best back in 2003 when I started. He was young, promising, he was conquering the NBA, he was simply an idol,” Zdjelar said.