Sam Korman & Chloe Womack
On Wednesday, June 3 the 1992 NBA Finals began between the Chicago Bulls and the Portland Trailblazers. The Blazers’ Clyde “The Glide” Drexler and Clifford Robinson faced the unstoppable lineup of Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen. Splitting the first four games of the series, Chicago, under Jordan’s supremacy, took the final two, sealing the championship for the Bulls. The Portland Trailblazers have yet to make it to the Finals again.
On Sunday November 1, 2009, a group of four people—Ben Rowland, Patrick Philips, and artists, Chloe Womack and Sam Korman—recreated the entire series as a game of Around the World. Laurelhurst Park played host to their experiment—to see how their representation of the series would play out within a more vernacular environment. Clad in hand-made replicas of the teams’ jerseys, the players’ performances resembled the outcome of the original series. Representing Michael Jordan, Ben dominated the game with idle competition from Patrick as Clyde Drexler. Chloe, playing Scottie Pippen, negotiated an ample offensive strategy while Sam as Cliff Robinson, played strongly to his defensive tactics, but failed to deliver on the offensive side. The game ended in the same fashion as the series seventeen years ago, with Ben carrying the Bulls to victory and winning MVP for the event.
By re-contextualizing this re-creation in a public park, playing an alternate game, and using average people as opposed to professional athletes, we were able to examine the dynamics of sports culture outside of the stadium. While competition was still important to the outcome, the overall nature of the game emphasized individual achievement. The hand-made jerseys contrasted with the highly tailored and iconic jerseys worn by both athletes and fans. The game drew attention to the ways in which people interact with their local sports franchises and the ways they re-contextualize them through more vernacular participation (i.e. Around the World, Horse, etc.).
The experience left all participants happy and satisfied, regardless of the outcome. Where disappointment and anger exist in traditional sports arenas, laughter and excitement enlivened the experience. In order to memorialize this event, photos will be posted to the social practice blog, and the jerseys will be signed, framed and donated to a local sports bar. Drawing from local culture, the framed jerseys insert this event into Portland history. An accompanying plaque will detail the date and location of the game’s record. Like the spirit of the 1992 NBA Finals, this game will live as a legend contained in its various artifacts, communicated through the language of its own cultural heritage.