A Subjective, Contextual History of Washington, D.C. Pro Basketball

A Subjective, Contextual History of
Washington, D.C. Pro Basketball

Astria Suparak

The NBA franchise currently based in the nation’s capital has played in three major cities under six different names. This project is a subjective, contextual history of the team and how it intertwines with civic issues, particularly: gun laws and violence, business and labor, real estate and gentrification, race, and class. Many of the stories don’t fit easily in one category, and issues often intersect.

A Subjective, Contextual History of Washington, D.C. Pro Basketball is a visual timeline created for the Power Forward exhibition, drawing from personal testimonies, official and unofficial histories, and online research, with sources including local and national news stories, sports and sneaker blogs, business magazines, Black newspapers, academic publications, real estate sites, promotional materials, United States Census Bureau statistics, and police department reports. It consists of 85 stories and 55 color illustrations and graphs.




“The sports world and the art world have long been divided in American society, though that gap has been bridged increasingly in recent years. Hall of Fame pitcher Randy Johnson discovered a second career in photography; The Olympics brought four former competitors back this winter as artists-in-residence; NBA players are increasingly involved in designing their own sneakers.

A new exhibit at VisArts in Rockville called Power Forward is embracing that crossover, telling stories of sports in society […]

While the exhibition is already open, there is still an open call for submissions for the last installment, a deep dive on how the history of the Washington Bullets/Wizards have been intertwined with civic issues over the years.

If you have any relevant memorabilia or photos — from the Gilbert Arenas Adidas “Hibachi” sneakers to the “Stop Gentrification in Congress Heights” sign — you can email subjective.history.of.wizards [at] gmail [dot] com to be a part of the show.”  – Noah Frank, “Sports, history, politics and art collide at new Rockville exhibition,” WTOP, May 31, 2018.



May 23 – July 1, 2018
@ VisArts, Rockville, Maryland. Exhibited as part of the POWER FORWARD exhibition.