One of the defining features of the 1980s, when this sculpture was made, was the growth of consumerism. Koons, a former stockbroker, made a series of works presenting consumer items in glass cases. Removed from any practical purpose, they become fetish objects to be gazed at and admired. This work was originally made for an exhibition on the themes of achievement, survival and death. Posters in the exhibition presented basketball as a means of achieving fame and fortune for young working-class Americans. According to Koons, the suspended basketballs suggest death, the ultimate state of being.