15. January 2021

  • Introducing Willie Cauley-Stein, Mavericks center and painter extraordinaire

Anthony OlivieriESPN.com.

Willie Cauley-Stein was in fifth grade when he packed his bags for a trip to Spearville, Kansas, a small neighborhood – population 800 – just 50 yards from Dodge City, which is being transformed into a metropolis of dilapidated plains and windmills.

Cowley-Stein was on his way to a class his grandmother had enrolled him in with a family friend. The snacks were good, he thought, so the walk was worth it. His bag is full of notebooks and pastels. It was his introduction to art.

Since then, Cowley-Stein has graduated from the School of Painting and the 27-year-old has been painting landscapes. He uses spray paint for his canvases – and acrylic paint when he wants to make life more complicated.

It’s a way to express your feelings about relationships, heroes, and life in a veterans center with the Dallas Mavericks. Cowley-Stein, who became a father in July, decided not to finish last season and took a player option with the Mavericks before signing with Dallas for two more years. This journey, he says, is represented in his art. But for many, the life of the NBA is separate from the creative life.

Cowley-Stein says it’s deliberate. League officials, he said, often want to devote themselves fully to the game. If you’ve been known to draw rather than throw freehand, that’s a bad career decision.

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They put that label on you, said Cowley-Stein, the sixth overall pick in the 2015 draft, which is now on its third team in six seasons. Well, you don’t like basketball because you do other things. They are: What? I bet there are a lot more [artists in the NBA than we know] for that reason alone – they don’t want people to know.

Cowley-Stein, for his part, has no objection to this designation. He surrounds himself with a bunch of creative people who do everything from music production to beat management to fashion design – including his girlfriend Kelsey Brooks, who works with him on his work. After all, they all want to make movies together.

While Cowley-Stein looks forward to the good vibes, he says his team offers him a welcome oasis in the madness of NBA life. These vibrations, he says, become inspiration, and that inspiration becomes art, which he creates in his spare time. This is Cowley-Stein, in his own words.

Introducing Willie Cauley-Stein, Mavericks center and painter extraordinaire Error! The file name is not specified. Willie Cawley-Stein

It was my second time using spray cans and my daughter was like: You should do Pac-Man. And I am: Pac-Man would be cool just because of the colors. And with a drink it would have been easy. But then I got involved. P3 is one of the things my team does. It means philosophy, power and peace. Pac-Man – Team. And we just devoured that message, you know what I mean? The part of Outa Space – instead of Space – is funny because I just came from space. The astronaut and the UFO integrate so well.

Introducing Willie Cauley-Stein, Mavericks center and painter extraordinaire Error! The file name is not specified. Willie Cawley-Stein

I was just watching [Bruce Lee’s documentary] Be Water, and I felt like I should do Eye of the Tiger. With Rocky, that made sense too. Oh, and one more thing: My girlfriend has never seen any of Rocky’s movies, so we had to watch them all.

My biggest concern is finding the inner consciousness so that I am not afraid to fail. And that’s why I chose this quote from Bruce Lee, because you overcome that fear by trying. It was really great to come to Dallas and take that leap into the unknown. And the little dog looking in the mirror…. I made this for my boyfriend for Christmas. The dog’s name is Hendricks. That’s the shit that came out. I liked the concept of looking in the mirror and seeing something else.

Watch and broadcast ESPN’s Bruce Lee documentary.

Bruce Lee is an Asian pioneer, an American original.

Can Bruce Lee win a real fight?

Oh, and this is Jimi Hendrix. I just got him a tattoo on his leg. I love everything he’s done for me. He is the epitome of jigging and creativity. Flipping the guitar over and playing a new sound is simply revolutionary. And that’s what I did [the kid on the basketball court with the newspaper], because that’s how my house was decorated when I was in the Bay Area. I lived on Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco. I could see that school process. I sat down and enjoyed the view. The message is as follows: Don’t read your clippings.

Introducing Willie Cauley-Stein, Mavericks center and painter extraordinaire Error! The file name is not specified. Willie Cawley-Stein

I really, really love the Renaissance. I’ve been doing this a long time. My brother – the one with the silver armor on a red background – and another member of the family, the one with the black armor, died recently. It is the inspiration of two kings. I had already painted on this canvas, then I got the idea with the kings…. and just painted over it. That’s why the bottom is like this, and I ended up loving it.

Introducing Willie Cauley-Stein, Mavericks center and painter extraordinaire Error! The file name is not specified. Willie Cawley-Stein

My team has a passion for anime and the history of Naruto. I mean, to us it’s basically the Bible. These are the three main characters – Naruto, Sakura and Sasuke [from left to right] – in the story. Headbands for Shift, our record company. It’s the identity of our team… Team records. You’ll notice I write #ShiftEverything on Instagram and that’s our whole move.

Introducing Willie Cauley-Stein, Mavericks center and painter extraordinaire Error! The file name is not specified. Willie Cawley-Stein

I feel like it’s my relationship with my girlfriend. Oh, my God. She’s definitely Batman, and I’m the Joker. She’s five steps ahead of me. What’s cool is that we gave him a meltdown. She loves it when I get creative.

That day, when I was in the garage, I said: Here, drop the cans. You see [The Joker’s] clothes and some random stuff in the background. It was actually her, and I just made little symbols that she made some of her clothes and some of the background. I just took it and ran with it. She didn’t even know I was doing it. I said to him: Come and see. And she was so… What? Did you make it? It was so fast. Sometimes they just lock me up and I can stay there for six hours. I knocked them both out.

Introducing Willie Cauley-Stein, Mavericks center and painter extraordinaire Error! The file name is not specified. Willie Cawley-Stein

It’s all part of a concept called Gravy Addiction. The Gucci logo will actually appear on the bag he wears on his knee. There’s Chanel, where the man melts Chanel C on a spoon, and the Fendi logo on the pill bottle. And then there’s St. Lawrence smoking in a can.

It is clear that our society has a major drug problem. So that was my inspiration. I went through a hiatus and bought a lot of designer clothes. I’m talking about almost $500,000 worth of clothes. I didn’t realize I was really addicted until all these years later. That’s how I got into all this. You spend $500,000 on clothing, and you could invest $500,000 in your own [clothing line] instead of the brands that are already making a lot of money. It led me to focus on the world, to not become dependent on other people’s gravy. I’m trying to become dependent on mine.

 

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