PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Sixers are visiting the Utah Jazz on Wednesday night. That means rookie Matisse Thybulle will likely defend guard Donovan Mitchell.
Two weeks into the season, Thybulle has already made defense an art form and that should surprise no one.
Thybulle is an artist on the basketball floor.
And how about his name? Well, that comes from one of the most famous painters in history, a name his father thought would be perfect for him.
“He was backpacking through Europe and he stumbled upon a Matisse exhibit and he fell in love with, first, his artwork and then the name was so unique for him,” Thybulle said of his father. “He fell in love with it, he came home and told my mom, ‘We got to make a deal. I get the naming rights to our first child.'”
The Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia has one of the artist’s largest collections in the world, which Thybulle was able to see up close for the first time.
“It was so amazing to take Matisse around the collection because he had never been here before. He’s such a thoughtful and kind person and we had such a great time,” said Barnes Foundation curator Cindy Kang.
“Third and fourth grade, you do like a study on Picasso and Matisse. That’s when I first realized like, ‘No way we’re are learning about who I was named after.’ I felt so cool because everyone was saying my name in class,” Thybulle said.
“I think it helps me appreciate art and being unique. It’s a name you don’t hear very often. I don’t stumble across Matisses very often,” he said. “It’s just embracing the uniqueness of it and taking pride that I was named after someone who’s as historical and special as Henri Matisse.”
Thybulle truly believes there is an art to basketball.
“We are playing the same game every night and it’s always unfolding in different ways and it’s like a creative aspect to it. You have guys who see the game in different ways, they are able to make passes that people and it’s like their own creative outlook to the game,” Thybulle said.
For Thybulle, the court and canvas are intertwined.