Our favorite discarded court ideas

We hit the doldrums of September. With the FIBA World Cup ending, we will really have nothing to talk about. So, thank you Zach Lowe for ranking the NBA court designs and filling our days with something fun to talk about.

Lowe went with the classic Lakers and Celtics courts as the best in the NBA. He picked the Nets’ neat design at the Barclays Center for third place. He also broke plenty of court-design news including the return of the Pac-Man logo to Atlanta’s Philips Arena.

Reading through the list got us thinking however about our favorite court designs that have since passed on.

We are not talking about court designs that are largely still in existence. The Celtics’ parquet floor is classic and should never change. While the logo and paint have gotten spruced up over the years, the floor at the TD Garden is largely the same design as the one at the Boston Garden. What we are talking about here are floor design quirks that made these floors unique and memorable. The reasons they stick out to us even years after they were replaced and changed.

Here are five of our favorites:

Milwaukee Bucks “M” design at the MECCA

The old MECCA basketball floor was designed by Robert Indiana, a famous pop artist. Image via Flux Design

This was really the first design that took the basketball court and treated it like art. Instead of traditionally plain courts with simple one-shaded wood or paints that were not even painted, Robert Indiana created a bold unparalleled floor that was truly unique and became the home floor for a young Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and an older Oscar Robertson for a championship run in the 1970s.

This court was truly very innovative.

It inspired an ESPN 30 for 30 Short that explains the history of the court and why it was so special to the City of Milwaukee — and then also how it was saved and put back together for a one-time only display at the site of the MECCA.

Last year, the Bucks paid homage to this court by installing a new court with the same ‘M’ design that was so iconic and unique 40 years ago.

 It is not a perfect design by any stretch of the imagination. The Mecca played before the 3-point line so the fact the ‘M’ goes past the 3-point line makes it look a little odd nowadays. But this continues to be a great tribute to a pioneer in NBA design.

We really miss that old floor.

Toronto’s 3-D baseline

In Europe, they do some really interesting things with their floor designs. True, most of those are for ads. But still really cool.

So when the Raptors brought the 3-D baseline logo, it was a breath of fresh air to the NBA and brought some of that international flair. No NBA team had done this before. It looked great on TV and made the Raptors’ court really unique.

Alas, all good things cannot last. The Raptors are dumping the 3-D baseline design this year, according to Lowe.

Toronto appears to be going for a little bit more brand consistency and going with the “We The North” font they used throughout their Playoff run. Otherwise, their court is now just as boring as everyone else’s can be.

Rocket launch

The 1990s saw some horrendous jersey designs pass through the league. Teams went cartoonish and put the entire freaking logo on their jerseys with pinstripes. We are looking at you Toronto and Houston.

At the time those jerseys were ugly and they are only beautiful now as relics of the past and displays of pure ostentatiousness. They were just plain ugly.

The Rockets jerseys were abhorrent, getting rid of the clean red and yellow color scheme of the championship run. But the logo redesign came with a court redesign that was just as loud and ridiculous as the whole redesign itself. It was a Rocket launching up the court complete with trail and launch cloud at the bottom of the court and stars inside the 3-point line.

How this ever got approved is beyond me. But kudos for trying to be bold. . . if not cartoonish.

The funny thing is that several teams tried to copy the general theme of the floor design. The Hornets and Sixers each had something coming up from the bottom of the court and leading to the mid-court logo. None mastered it as well as the Rockets though.

The Honeycomb

If we have not mentioned this enough, it is great having the Hornets back in Charlotte. It is a great name and the people of Charlotte have done some great things with the logo, team name, jerseys and floor designs.

The Hornets initial floor design for this rebirth includes an awesome honeycomb look that should quickly be a NBA favorite (provided it is pulled off well, nobody has seen it physically yet, I guess).

This is not the first time the Hornets have gone with a honeycomb design however.

Back in those halcyon cartoon days, the Hornets had that buzzing swoosh coming from the bottom of center court. They also filled the inside of their paint with honeycombs to contrast to the two-tone teal surrounding it.

The court had all the Hornets personality you could want and was something truly unique to the team. No other team could pull this off. Which is what made it work. Sure the colored in perimeter was a little hokey — another sign of NBA trends as the Hawks also colored in the perimeter at the time.

More teams took risks with these public art statements and for some it paid off. The Hornets court missed in a lot of areas in the late 90s, this was one area they hit on and they came back to it with this current rebrand.

Forest through the trees

The Timberwolves had a nice little forest tree motif going there for a while during the Kevin Garnett jerseys.

The logo was a bit cartoonish, but the jerseys held the right balance of plain but decorative with trees lining the collars and sleeves. The court was much the same way.

Minnesota’s Target Center was ringed with forest trees. The perfect home for a Timberwolf, right?

Again, it is a little touch that would not affect the visuals of the court but is unique to the team. We like those things as it is a way for teams to express themselves a little bit.

All of these examples prove there is nothing wrong with that. It is good to go away from the cookie-cutter floor designs that fill the mind of the bored. Even the Spurs have to change things up every once in a while, right?

About Philip Rossman-Reich

Philip Rossman-Reich is the managing editor for Crossover Chronicles and Orlando Magic Daily. You can follow him on twitter @OMagicDaily