As many Philadelphia Sixers fans know, watching Joel Embiid play basketball can be awe inspiring.
Now, for tens of thousands of Brooklyn, New York residents who will pass by a recently unveiled sculpture, they'll have the chance to be inspired by Embiid in a different way.
New York artist Hank Willis Thomas created a 22-foot tall sculpture that was actually inspired by an image he saw of a Harlem Globetrotter standing in front of the Statue of Liberty. But when it came time to make the giant bronze sculpture, he used a three-dimensional scan of Embiid's arm, according to Brooklyn Paper.
The sculpture is titled "Unity" and was written about in the New York Times last month when it was unveiled:
“Unity” was originally called “We’re No. #1,” a more assertive title, perhaps recalling the historical competition between the boroughs that reaches back to the 19th century. “Unity” is a traditional and fairly conservative work, accompanied in the official news release by a statement that sounds politician-worthy: “This sculpture is a homage to, and celebration of, the unique and multifaceted character of the borough of Brooklyn,” Mr. Thomas says. “The spirit of Brooklyn has always been about upward mobility and connection to roots.”
The piece was five years in the making. On his Instagram page, the artist added, "It's about the process!" That can't be a coincidence can it?
Turns out, Embiid modeled for the sculpture quite some time ago (he's probably more jacked by now). Thomas was asked about Embiid's involvement by the folks at Tisch:
The sculpture is modeled after Philadelphia 76er Joel Embiid’s arm. How did he become involved in this piece?
HWT: I had a studio visit with some people and they saw that I was doing a sculpture, so I was doing molds and casts with body parts of NBA players. They were like, “Do you need anybody else?,” and I was like, “Sure!” Then they said, “Well there’s this kid, he hasn’t started playing yet, but I’m pretty sure he’s gonna’ be good. You should reach out to him.” And that was Joel Embiid.
We reached out to Mr. Thomas to follow up but have yet to get a response.
"It's beautiful in a way, in terms of form, agility, suppleness," one New Yorker told Eyewitness News of the statue.
Philadelphians would agree. I'm curious what Nets fans think of Embiid flashing the No. 1 in their city for years to come?
View this post on Instagram
Unity, 2019 Today we installed my first permanent public art sculpture in the city I’m from! It’s at the intersection of Tillary & Adams at the end of the Brooklyn Bridge. So epic and surreal. I’m so honored and humbled to see this dream become a reality. I’m truly grateful to all of the incredible people who made this piece of reality through so many years of hard work and collaboration! ☝🏿