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Sunday, February 25, 2024
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The Most Talked-about Part of the NBA Tourney? Look Down

  • Floors generate widespread rebuke for both design and safety.
  • Even critics acknowledge that the new floors provided strong marketing for the league.
Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

Amid the success of the inaugural NBA In-Season Tournament, there has been a very notable and visually jarring exception: the court design.

The league introduced a set of 30 new designs aimed at creating separation between the tournament and regular-season games. For many teams, the feel is vastly different from their normal games. 

Those new looks, containing a unified design template for the first time in league history, are aimed in part to link to each team’s City Edition alternate uniform. Notably, the courts also are completely painted with no natural wood showing. 

The bolder designs, league officials said, were also boosted at the urging of commissioner Adam Silver, who pushed staffers to be “bigger and bolder” in their thinking.

There were two significant problems, however, with that approach: how fans felt about the floors, and how players felt. 

The floors quickly generated widespread rebuke among fans, particularly across social media, even as TV ratings for tournament games showed strength. Players primarily voiced a different and more pressing complaint, as the new courts were seen by many as slippery and an injury hazard. Celtics guard Jaylen Brown, whose $304 million contract is the richest in league history, hurt his groin in a game against Toronto and blamed the new courts.

“As players, we’re all here for the in-season tournament because it’s going to generate revenue, excitement, competition,” Brown said last month. “We’ve got to make sure the floor is safe to play on. We can’t put our players out there and risk their health.”

Costs for alternate courts such as these are estimated at $75,000 to $150,000 each, but some for the tourney are reported to be rented.

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban told the Dallas Morning News he’s “not a fan of the courts,” but that sentiment was quickly coupled with praise: “It was a brilliant marketing idea.”

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