With mural dedication, Detroit Pistons hope to leave ‘lasting’ impression in Paris

Vince Ellis
Special for Pistons.com

PARIS – The winter chill wasn’t going to stop a fun time Wednesday morning.

With Detroit’s own Eminem blaring over loudspeakers, young students from College Evariste Galois stood admiring the freshly painted mural overlooking the school’s basketball court.

Just a few minutes earlier, a brief ceremony was held to officially inaugurate the Detroit Pistons-sponsored mural which was finished last week. A donation of 5,000 euros to the school’s basketball program was also announced.

Pistons Vice Chairman Arn Tellem, flanked by former Pistons Ben Wallace, Earl Cureton and Greg Kelser and Paris city officials explained the significance of the occasion taking place one day before the franchise faces the Chicago Bulls at Accor Arena.

The trip to Paris is more than basketball. The trip offered the Pistons organization the chance to make a difference in the community.

“We want to make an impact in this community that is lasting and gives young people in Paris an opportunity to remember our visit,” Tellem said. “The donation is to assist programming, youth sports and other activities at this recreation center so it will continue to help build tomorrow’s leaders and give everyone here a chance to play.”

The mural and donation were the result of Pistons brainstorming. As soon as the organization learned it was playing in Paris, thoughts turned to ways to help the Paris community.

The Pistons reached out to the NBA and were connected with a Paris-based art organization. That’s where the idea of commissioning a mural was hatched.

“They gave us a few artists to choose from,” Pistons Chief Marketing Officer Alicia Jeffreys said. “The city chose the location for us, because it's one of the most well-known and used facilities in the city”

The school is in the 13th arrondissment and Pistons point guard Killian Hayes has played on the court.

The Pistons selected French artist Kekli. The colors are Pistons red, white and blue, and there’s a flaming basketball featured prominently. Above the basketball sits the 313 logo. Kekli didn’t attend the ceremony, but he was represented by his friend, Renaud.

“We wanted to motivate the kids,” Renaud said. “We wanted to empower them, to give them energy and to motivate them to become good players.

“The idea of this work is to create something with a lot of movement, something very dynamic and it’s something that's also a lot inspired by comic books and manga culture. You have all that energy with the Detroit Pistons logo and the Detroit Pistons colors. That's the point of this mural.”

The mural and donation are further examples of the Pistons’ commitment to the community. Tellem mentioned the Pistons’ refurbishment of Detroit basketball courts and Pistons owner Tom Gores’ announcement he is donating $20 million to build a 25,000 square foot community center on Detroit’s west side.

“This project fits perfectly with what we’ve done in Detroit with the refurbishing of 60 basketball courts and we recently announced plans to build a community center in Detroit,” Tellem said.