Painting of the 2008 NCAA National Championship Added to Kansas Men's Basketball Office Mural

Dec. 8, 2008

LAWRENCE, Kan. – Renowned Kansas City artist John Martin spent Monday afternoon at the Kansas men’s basketball office installing his addition of the 2008 NCAA National Championship to the ongoing mural of Kansas basketball history.

Located in the men’s basketball front hallway, the latest version depicts the giant Final Four scoreboard, including confetti and streamers, from the 2008 national title game in which Kansas defeated Memphis 75-68 in overtime. Below the scoreboard is the ever-popular photo of the team holding the national championship trophy above their heads in celebration. Additionally, Martin captured Kansas head coach Bill Self leaving the ladder with one of the two national championship nets.

“John’s addition is first class, just like the other pieces on the mural,” Self said. “It is definitely the first thing you notice when you come into our basketball office. It’s amazing to me how he can capture that moment and bring it to life in a painting.”

Martin, a graduate of the University of Kansas School of Fine Arts, said the 2008 addition of the ongoing mural took approximately 10 days to complete.

“Being an artist, I have some definitive ways of observing people and picking up on what characterizes them and what they do as far as their abilities,” Martin said of Self’s comments of capturing the moment. “I try to get that moment after studying them over a period of time. I try to bring that forth in the paintings.”

Martin started the mural in 1979. It features portrait paintings of James Naismith, Phog Allen, KU’s three NCAA championship teams and KU’s 13 Final Four squads.

“This painting has been revised so much through the years,” Martin said. “The original idea was inspirational. Coach (Ted) Owens (at the time) came up with the idea. It has changed so much because we originally had his two Final Fours (in 1971 and 1974). This has had a life since 1979.”

Martin has established himself as one of the most accomplished portrait artists in the country. He’s especially well-known as painter of choice for a highly visible class of people: America’s sports heroes.

Martin, from Shawnee, Kan., began his career as an advertising art director and illustrator, winning more than 150 awards for his work across the country. He then turned his full attention to his first love: portraiture.

Some of his best known portrait commissions are: former Baseball Commissioners Bowie Kuhn and Ford Frick; Kansas City Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt; golfers Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson; former Executive Directors of the NCAA Walter Byers and Myles Brand; Baseball Hall of Famers Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams, Stan Musial, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and George Brett; NFL Hall of Famer Len Dawson; and NBA Hall of Famer Bob Cousy.

Martin has also done portrait commissions for the University of Kansas and for such institutions as the University of Michigan, the University of Texas, Louisiana State University, the Kansas City Chiefs, the Kansas City Royals, the Atlanta Braves, the Detroit Tigers, the Steamboat Ski Corporation, the National Collegiate Athletic Association, United States Golf Association and the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame.

Martin has also done numerous program covers, including five World Series, four All-Star games and an NBA All-Star game. He has also done many art prints and posters, including “Fifty Years of the Final Four” for the NCAA and the 1993 Ryder Cup Team for the PGA America.