April 14, 2024

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NBA Teams To Play In-Season Tourney On New Custom Court Designs

4 min read

When the NBA tips off the In-Season Tournament on Nov. 3, fans watching won’t have to wonder if they’re viewing a traditional regular-season contest or one that comes as part of the tournament’s slate of games. A unique court, designed and made specifically for each team in the NBA for use only during the tourney, will do that for them.

“It is the first time you will see one aesthetic visual across all 30 teams,” Christopher Arena, NBA head of on-court and brand partnerships, said.

That visual comes with plenty of color.

Each of the 30 floors features a templated design meant to tie to the tournament. Every court design has one team-specific base paint color with a secondary color used in wordmarks. A third highlight color plays prominently throughout a 16-foot-wide “runway” down the entire middle of the court from end to end. Every floor features the NBA Cup trophy at mid-court behind the team’s logo or wordmark and then a more muted trophy design in each key.

“Let’s go mild to wild,” Arena said about the design process. “We wanted to stay dynamic with the colors wherever we could.”

Along with being the first time the NBA has orchestrated a league-wide floor design, there’s a mixture of other firsts. These tournament courts represent the first time any team in the league has gone fully painted, with no natural woodgrain at any point. This is also the first time that five NBA teams—the Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers, Chicago Bulls, Portland Trail Blazers and New Orleans Pelicans—feature an alternate or second-floor design in the history of the organizations.

MORE: Explore The Making Of NBA Courts

Arena said the mindset of the league in terms of floors has traditionally let the courts serve as a stage but allow the focus of the game to be on the athletes. While the NBA will still take that approach for the bulk of the season, he said now is the right time to switch things up for 67 games.

“To put the focus on the stage and really have something from a broadcast standpoint, to have something that really forces you to stop and look and focus, we think that was the right thing to do for this tournament at this time,” Arena said. “From the comments from the players, they are actually jacked to play on the court.”

Kevin Durant noticed the color right away when shown the court for the Phoenix Suns. “We’re playing on a purple court in the NBA?” he said. “Never done before, right? That’s insane.”

The roughly four-month process to get all the courts completed required the collaboration of the NBA, teams, facilities and the league’s three court manufacturers—Connor, Horner and Robbins. “This isn’t normal,” Arena said about the push. “It is not within the timelines of court manufacturing to take on 30 courts and paint, stain and get them to team facilities in three to four months. It is nothing short of remarkable.”

Each court ties to the uniform the team will wear during home In-Season Tournament games. Sometimes those colors come plenty bright. The base colors range from the most popular red and grey shades to plenty of others, such as purple and even green in Boston.

The apron and the body of the court remain the same color, so the NBA increases the boundary line from two inches wide to four inches to help referees and players distinguish out-of-bounds.

Arena said the teams showed “unheralded enthusiasm” in matching up the court colors with the uniform design, even for those five teams that have never had an alternate floor. To keep the tourney floors uniform throughout, Boston, the only team to play on oak instead of maple, will have a maple floor for the tournament.

The only color considerations in play were to stay away from the extremes for the sake of television. Arena said the NBA didn’t want black or white and shied from the navy as a main color, although it is used multiple times in the runway (the runway is meant to be a tie to teams on a runway headed toward the tournament semifinals and finals in Las Vegas.)

“Those dark, dark colors and light, light colors, like white,” Arena said, “TV does some wacky things to it.”

When the tournament moves to Las Vegas and the T-Mobile Arena for the final three games, the court will have a similar design that still features two “dynamic colors” in the runway aesthetic with the trophy branding playing heavily.

“How do we make them distinct,” Arena said was the key question during planning, “when viewers turn the TV on, how do they know it features the In-Season Tournament?” The NBA has found a way.


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