Born and raised a Celtics fan, photographer Rob Hammer’s inspiration for The Basketball Hoops Project collection can be traced back to arguably the greatest player to ever suit up in the green and white.

“The first book I ever read was Drive, Larry Bird’s biography,” says Hammer. “In the book was a picture of his childhood hoop which was an old, wooden backboard hung up on an old barn that looked like it could fall over. I thought it was so amazing. I was like, Man, how did this guy come from that? I thought that image told a great story, and that’s really how the project started.”

Hammer and his dog make frequent cross-country road trips and while he’s traveled near and far to tell stories through his photos, he’s yet to make a pit stop in French Lick, IN, to see to Bird’s childhood home and bring the project full circle.

“I don’t know what it is, but there’s something that’s keeping me from going to French Lick,” he says. “I don’t know if it’s a weird thing where I don’t want to be disappointed if I see his hoop.”

Hammer, whose professional ad work includes shooting for Nike, adidas, Under Armour, Reebok and Foot Locker, among others, is hosting a Basketball Hoops Project premiere at the Boyd Satellite Gallery in New Orleans from February 4 through March 1, with a party celebrating the gallery taking place the Friday before All-Star Weekend (full disclosure: SLAM is sponsoring the event, see above). The project is ongoing, though, as Hammer continues to seek out more hoops on his travels moving forward.

“Having a gallery was one of the big goals for my project this year,” he says. “It’s a long-term project for sure, and I’ve been doing it for three years. I don’t really plan on stopping any time soon. I plan on doing a book, but that won’t be for a little while down the road.”