Wednesday, July 15, 2009

International Courts (FIBA U19 Men's)

Summer is the time for international basketball competitions, as each country's own leagues (the NBA and college ball in the U.S.) are out of season. One recently held event was the FIBA U19 (under 19 years old) Men's World Championship in Auckland, New Zealand. Below are some freeze-frame screen-captures from videos I found on YouTube (you can click on the photo montage to enlarge it).

The biggest difference from U.S. courts is the trapezoidal key, which is much wider at the baseline than at the free-throw line. Its purpose, presumably, is to reduce the role of big players, either in setting up offensively beside the key during the normal flow of play or when lining up as a defensive rebounder closest to the basket on free-throw attempts.

The circle at the top of the free-throw lane also has a distinctive look, compared to U.S. courts, with a logo painted in. It's difficult to see where the free-throw line is exactly, but there's probably a fine line that the players can follow.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Shared WNBA-NBA Courts (Part 2)

Last time, we looked at cities where the WNBA and NBA teams play in the same arenas and have virtually identical court designs. Today, we'll look at cases where arenas have different floor designs -- to one extent or another -- for their WNBA and NBA tenants.

The first two we'll see (looking horizontally for the same city) are Phoenix and Washington. You can click on all the court photos to enlarge them.

Phoenix's U.S. Airways Center (shown on top) has my favorite system for the designs of the women's (Mercury) and men's (Suns) courts. The courts are pretty similar, except for the free-throw side-alleys of the key, which are purple for the Mercury and orange for the Suns. To me, it's a nice way of saying that this is the basic Phoenix court, but we want to distinguish the motifs for the two teams.

Washington, too, has a pretty similar court for its women's (Mystics) and men's (Wizards) teams. The blue color is dominant for both, but the variation in the painting scheme of the key lets each team have its own floor design.

The four remaining cities have more radically different designs for their respective women's and men's teams. In each case, there are solid-color keys that are different for the men and women. In order, the four cities we see in the following photos are Los Angeles, Atlanta, Indianapolis, and New York.

Starting with L.A., the women's team (Sparks) and men's team (Lakers) both have purple and gold as their dominant colors (a third team, the Clippers, play in the Staples Center, but the Lakers and Sparks go back together longer, to when they both played in the Forum). As can be seen, the keys for the Sparks are gold, whereas those for the Lakers are purple.

In Atlanta, the women's (Dream) and men's (Hawks) teams both have red and blue (of different shades) among their team colors. As with L.A., one of the major colors is used for the women's keys (red) and the other for the men's (blue).

Next the Indiana Fever (women's) and Pacers (men) both have blue and gold among their team colors, with the Fever also incorporating red. As with the two previous examples, each team has a different color for its keys -- the Fever's in gold, and the Pacers' in blue.

Finally, we have New York City's Madison Square Garden, home to the WNBA's Liberty and NBA's Knicks. Both teams have blue and orange as their basic team colors. The Knicks' keys are orange, but here, the Liberty's court designers got a little creative, combining light blue and royal blue in the keys.

To conclude this two-part entry, I would say that I dislike when an arena's two tenants have court designs that are either too similar or too different. Thus, I selected Phoenix as my favorite. Share your thoughts in the Comments area!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Shared WNBA-NBA Courts (Part 1)

The most prominent form of basketball at this time of year in the U.S. is the WNBA. Ten of the 13 WNBA teams play in the same arenas as the NBA teams in their respective home cities (the three exceptions are in Connecticut and Seattle, which don't have NBA teams, and in Chicago, where the WNBA's Sky plays at UIC Pavilion instead of the United Center).

Of the 10 situations where a WNBA team shares an arena with an NBA team, I find it of interest to look at how similar or different the floor designs are for the two teams. Each within-city pair has the same (or similar) team colors, so the potential is there for the WNBA and NBA floors to be extremely similar in many cities. As shown below, there appear to be four cities in which the WNBA and NBA floors are virtually identical, except for the center logo (and the three-point line). You can click on the photo montage to enlarge it.

From top to bottom:

*The floor at Detroit's Palace of Auburn Hills is the same, except for whether the Shock (WNBA) or Pistons (NBA) logo is at center court.

*The floor at San Antonio's AT&T Center is the same, except for whether the Silver Stars (WNBA) or Spurs (NBA) logo is at center court.

*The floor at Sacramento's Arco Arena is the same, except for whether the Kings (NBA) or Monarchs (WNBA) logo appears at midcourt.

*The floor at Minneapolis's Target Center is the same, except for whether the Lynx (WNBA) or Timberwolves (NBA) logo appears at midcourt.

One qualification to the claims made about the arenas listed above is that the photos and video screen-captures I was able to obtain on the web may not be from the most recent seasons. Thus, buildings that had near-identical WNBA and NBA floors at one time may no longer have such similar layouts.

In doing research for this posting, I was surprised to learn that one of the most historically successful WNBA franchises, the Houston Comets, had suspended operations for 2009. For what it's worth, the Toyota Center's hardwood for Comet games looks like it was very similar to the Rockets' court.

In upcoming postings, we'll look at arenas where the home city's WNBA and NBA teams have different court designs.