Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The New Bucks Court


I dislike it.  Maybe it will grow on me and maybe history will show me to be a crotchety old fool, but I think it could have been much, much better.

Let's start with the basics.  The new floor  was unveiled yesterday.  It replaced the old floor (image from Behind the Bucks Pass), which had been used since the Bucks changed uniforms in 2006.  The new floor is something of an homage to the MECCA Arena floor that was used by the Bucks (and every other basketball team playing at what is now U.S. Cellular Arena) from 1977 until 1997.  

The genesis of the floor change was an event held a month ago by the Our MECCA Group.  The group acquired the old floor and put it on display for one night at U.S. Cellular Arena.  I was in Los Angeles on the night of the event, but it appeared to be good fun.  More important than the actual event was the publicity in the run-up to the event.  Seeing pictures of a floor that was designed as a work of pop art (by Robert Indiana, who reportedly gave his blessing to the new floor), focused on the name "Milwaukee" and was different than other NBA floors was inspiring.  It made me (and surely a number of other Bucks fans) think, "now that's the type of thing that made the Milwaukee Bucks look like something better than the NBA franchise with the lowest valuation."

When I heard about the new floor design (thanks, @BucksAndPackers), I was initially excited.  The reporting made it clear that the new floor would be based on the MECCA floor design.  That design really was artistic.  The playing surface used a more muted red for the paint, which blended well with the yellow and orange coloring of the playing surface.  The baselines and sidelines were olive green with a darkened blue near the lines.  And "Milwaukee" was just Milwaukee.  Not in a team-branded font, but in big block letters that spanned the baseline.  I knew that the corny old "MECCA" ringing center court would be gone, but I hoped that the fundamentals of eye-pleasing colors and an unconventional structure could be kept.

An hour or so after hearing the news that a new court was coming, I began to worry.  The Journal-Sentinel reported that the Bucks were working with the NBA to ensure that the court met league standards.  That was bad news.  It meant that non-branded colors were probably out.  It meant that the "Milwaukee" on the baselines would probably have to retain the Bucks' font.  It meant that the old college/pro combo lane was out.  I knew that we would get a giant "M" on the court, but that wasn't what made the MECCA floor great.  Fucking UTEP has a giant branded logo on their court.  I wanted (at least an attempt at) an artistic design.

Instead of an artistic design, Bucks fans got a lazy retro floor.  They kept the giant "M"s.  (Whoopee.)  They eliminated the red.  (That's good.)  They made the deer head gigantic.  (Yuck.)  

I wanted a true retro design that looks forward.  How about minimizing the corporate (because that's what NBA teams are, really) logo at mid court?  How about an old school jump circle?  How about two-toned baselines and sidelines?  How about color choices for the playing surface that blend well together with the out of bounds area?

Maybe the Buffalo Bills spoiled me.  In 2011, the Bills switched from a garish dark blue/red combo to an elegant homage to the team's 70's look.  They examined the O.J.-era uniforms and made them better.  That is what I wanted from the new Bucks court.  Something that is understated, classic and immediately pleasing to the eye.

The reality is that this court won't make a dent.  NBA fans outside of Milwaukee will view it as just another garish gimmick court design.  Even those local television broadcasts that do mention the court and show the old MECCA floor will leave fans of other teams wondering, "why didn't they just use that cool design they already had?"  

Maybe the original sin was the uniforms.  The Bucks may not have the worst uniforms in the NBA (at least according to ESPN), but almost nobody likes them.  The word "Milwaukee" is nowhere to be found on the standard home or away uniform.  The colors aren't the right shades of red and green.  And the side striping lacks rhyme or reason.  A uniform re-design should have come before a new court.  That was a color scheme could have been chosen that blends better with the available hardwood colors.

The new Bucks floor is better than the previous floor, so that is good.  I just think it could have been so much better.

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