Good wood: The Bucks unveiled their new home court design and it’s the best in the league
Forget about what it isn’t, and appreciate the great design it is—or that it is at all.
When the Milwaukee Bucks unveiled their much hyped home court redesign at the Milwaukee Art Museum Tuesday night, the immediate online comments were on script as ever, deeming it “safe” and “underwhelming,” while primarily focusing on the product on the floor rather than the floor itself.
Thing of it is, those folks weren’t privy to the team’s original design concepts, which—rumor has it—incorporated top-tier Milwaukee art talent that might have done for basketball courts what the University of Oregon did for football uniforms (but in a good way).
Enter the NBA, who didn’t share the same enthusiasm as our own progressive thinkers in challenging the expectations of what could be done with 94 feet of maple. It’s The League who wanted to play it safe.
So why did the Bucks even bother to keep working with the NBA upon being shot down? After all, they faced an extremely short timeline, and it’s not like somebody was putting a gun to Bango’s head and demanding a new floor for 2013.
Why, then? They did it for us, dummies. That’s right, even though they didn’t have to, the Bucks went and made something cool for us, the thankless bunch of schmos who were going to hate anything they gave us no matter what.
This might be speculation, but here goes: The Bucks saw our excitement over the recent unearthing of Robert Indiana’s MECCA floor, and gave us some credit as a city. Sure, the nostalgia factor contributed to the MECCA buzz, but the team’s brass also sensed a glimmer of mischievousness in our eyes, an appetite to mess with the status quo. After all, while we’ll remain a city that can’t sustain a cultural event during a Packers game, we’re still that hip and happenin’ cutting edge burg that brought Robert Indiana to town more than 30 years ago.
So it’s fitting that the new floor revisits elements of Indiana’s design, which decades later remains far ahead of the curve when it comes to the blank canvas which is the NBA hardwood. In this regard, nobody else has caught up to even 1970s Milwaukee. With the possible exception of the classic parquet in Boston, ours is once again the most recognizable floor in the country.
The fact that there was something to unveil at all is a tribute to everyone who worked to make it happen in a dauntingly short amount of time, including the Our MECCA group. Forget about what it isn’t, and appreciate the great design it is—or that it is at all.
Maybe it was an unveiling in the Calatrava that set unrealistic expectations. But that’s unfair. The Bucks aimed high with their original concepts, and that made the “compromise” all the better. It’s a design that is elegant, unique, and bold. Rather than seeing “Bucks” on the baseline and center-court, you’ll see “Milwaukee” and the iconic whitetail that speaks for itself. At all times, players are standing on an “M” from baseline to baseline. If you’re underwhelmed, wait until you see it in person or on TV. It’s what a home-court should be, right down to local materials and fabricators.
And keep in mind, we’re kind of on our own here. The NBA poo-pooed our original concepts while in the same breath demanding we build a new arena. And even as they thought our first designs too radical, they see nothing wrong with shaking things up with game jerseys, going all XFL by allowing nicknames in lieu of surnames...but only for Brooklyn and Miami—hardly franchises that need help building brands.
Look, maybe we didn’t turn the art world upside down this time around, but the new floor is head and shoulders above that of any other franchise. Of course, the important thing is to invert the “M” on the floor so it’s also a “W.” At the unveiling, Bucks forward Larry Sanders—someone who incidentally makes more art than you—saw the big picture, simply stating, “We can win on that floor.”