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Gila River Indian Community artist designs basketball hoops for March Madness

With Glendale preparing to host the men’s Final Four next weekend, the NCAA partnered with a local artist to create decorative basketball hoops that will be on display at opposite ends of the Valley. The colorful hoops resemble cacti and feature elements reflective of Arizona’s tribal communities.

The NCAA reached out to artist Paul Molina of the Gila River Indian Community. Molina designed two sculptures — set up in Glendale, and Scottsdale.

One features an orange color scheme, while the other is purple.

Molina says the opposite designs represent the course of the moving sun.

“Just because there's two, I was thinking like West and East and then also with that, you know, the sunrise and then the sunset. So I kept that in mind. I really liked the colors of the sunrise and the sunset," he said.

Molina says the pieces are reflective of Arizona’s indigenous communities, and feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. 

“I think, you know, even non tribal members, people from out of town, you know, are really loving it. You know, people comment like they love it and stuff like that and resharing it, tagging me and stuff," he said.

The sculptures also depict a jackrabbit and a roadrunner, both animals associated with indigenous communities. Molina says the designs on the back of the hoops pay tribute to the 22 federally recognized tribes in Arizona.

Ignacio Ventura is a reporter for KJZZ. He graduated from the University of Southern California with a bachelor’s degree in creative writing and a minor in news media and society.