Greg Speirs created the iconic 1992 “Slam Dunking Skullman” skeleton trademark design worn by the 1992 Olympic Men’s Lithuanian basketball team at the 1992 Barcelona Summer Olympics on the medal ceremonies podium.
He donated 100% of his profits realized from his iconic Slam Dunking Skeleton design to become the major funder of the 1992 Men’s Lithuanian Olympic basketball team and subsequently the major funder of the Lithuanian children’s charities in 1992 and 1993.
Greg Speirs’ Slam-Dunking Skeleton trademark became a household icon when first seen by the world adorning tie dyed jerseys worn by the 1992 Lithuanian Olympic basketball team at the medal ceremonies in the Barcelona 1992 Summer Olympics. He acquired the status of being the major sponsor of the team by donating 100% of his profits which were the major funds generated from the sales of his trademarked “Slam Dunking Skeleton” to fund the Lithuanian Olympic basketball team’s journey to the Olympics, after their newly found independence and breakaway from the Soviet Union. He donated all further profits realized to Lithuanian children’s charities which amounted to at least over $450,000. dollars.
The 1992 Lithuanian Basketball Team represents what happens in freedom…people excel. The Lithuanian Basketball Team symbolized resistance against an oppressor, and the Slam Dunking Skeleton represented them, a whole country’s team. The struggle of the Lithuanian team struck a chord with me and the Slam Dunking Skeleton image represented them. It symbolized the team, like a Phoenix rising from the ashes, coming up from nothing and rising to overcome the obstacles, which are represented by the hands blocking the shot in the image. The image is one of breaking out of oppression symbolized by the skeleton finally slam dunking the basketball. It also represented what happened to the whole country of Lithuania. This was my interpretation when I created it in 1992 and its real meaning. It’s not a dead skeleton at all, but this skeleton represents rebirth and a new life. I know that the Lithuanians really understand what freedom is all about, and anywhere people love freedom Americans are there to help. Also, you can’t have freedom without free enterprise.
The Lithuanian team had a small budget allocated to them for the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. Because of an article written in a local newspaper, the Grateful Dead was moved by the team’s plight and funded their trip to the Olympics. Artist Greg Speirs from New York was also moved by the team’s plight and created the iconic Slam-Dunking Skeleton on the tie-dye shirts which were made in the colors of the Lithuanian flag. The skeleton pictured on the shirt was slam-dunking a basketball symbolizing a phoenix rising from the ashes according to the artist who created it.
According to the artist who created it, the design was not created as the icon of a rock group as had been misreported previously in the news. Speirs first major contribution of 100% of his profits ($450,000.), was given to the team and far eclipsed all donations of others, was also omitted from the story. In the film you will see the artist describe his inspiration for the infamous skeletal image which has come to represent the spirit of the team and used to promote the film’s run in theaters across the U.S. The fact is that the image was an independent creation that came from the artist and was not an icon of a musical group. Reporters were handed a pre- written storyline at the time and ran with it. As a consequence the story was misreported and is still being skewed today. After being informed of the facts many outlets chose to continue with the false narrative over the truth.
The artist also acquired the status as the major sponsor of the team when he turned down all money generated from sales of his creation, and instead let it all (100%) go to the team and Lithuanian charities. The donation eclipsed all of the funding by the big names involved. An effort was made to downplay his part and keep this fact out of stories and was not reported.
As the shirts continued selling news reports boasted that marketing of the shirts raised millions more that were given to charities and the team. This was all done using his trademark Slam Dunking Skeleton on merchandise like shirts. This second wave funded the 1996 Team, Lithuanian Children’s Charities and helped build the basketball school in Lithuania. Again reports failed to credit the artist although these donations ultimately came from him as the owner and creator of the image.