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NBA Unveils 30 (!) New Court Designs for In-Season Tourney

The first NBA In-Season Tournament tips off this Friday, and the league has just revealed the 30 new court designs — one for each team — that will be used for the tourney games.

ESPN’s Zach Lowe has an excellent (if somewhat credulous) article on how the courts were designed — highly recommended. Here’s the key passage:

By late July, [the league] had settled on a template: the bulk of the court in one color linked to each team’s City Edition uniform, with one central strip the width of the in-the-key painted area running from baseline to baseline in another shade — meant to evoke an airport runway, and the idea that each group play game had the teams on their own runway to the tournament’s final four in Las Vegas.

A giant in-season tournament trophy would serve as the center-court logo, superimposed on each team’s individual logo. A tipped-over version of the trophy would be squeezed inside the foul line on both ends of each court.

So the Celtics’ design, for example, looks like this:

That’s one of the better-looking ones. Most of the others are brutal, and of course the whole “runway” concept is beyond stupid.

Here’s the full rundown:

Atlanta Hawks

Boston Celtics

Brooklyn Nets

Charlotte Hornets

Chicago Bulls

Cleveland Cavaliers

Dallas Mavericks

Denver Nuggets

Detroit Pistons

Golden State Warriors

Houston Rockets

Indiana Pacers

LA Clippers

Los Angeles Lakers

Memphis Grizzlies

Miami Heat

Milwaukee Bucks

Minnesota Timberwolves

New Orleans Pelicans

New York Knicks

Oklahoma City Thunder

Orlando Magic

Philadelphia 76ers

Phoenix Suns

Portland Trail Blazers

Sacramento Kings

San Antonio Spurs

Toronto Raptors

Utah Jazz

Washington Wizards


I think a lot of these designs are fun when viewed in a vacuum. They’d make good wall hangings, serving trays, or dartboards. But as basketball courts? Well, we’ll have to wait and see to know for sure, but it certainly seems like they’re gonna look dreadful. Moreover, since the colors are based on the teams’ City uniforms, which the teams will be wearing in the In-Season Tourney, I suspect we’ll have a lot of situations where the uniforms blend in with the courts. (You can see all 30 City designs here.)

Can I just say one more time how stupid the “runway” concept is? Like, if you want to have a big stripe running down the center, then fine — have a big stripe! But reverse-engineering a “story” for the stripe is just sad, and making that “story” about a runway is pathetic. How do these people look in the mirror every morning? Jeez!

Comments (51)

    a lot of these would be cool if they were actual hardwood and didn’t have the weird middle stripe. also why can they do this but can’t just put the finals trophy on the court for the finals.

    The Jazz court is in the Lakers’ shade of purple, not the Jazz’s.

    If there is one NBA team Jazz fans hate, it’s the Lakers. I, for one, won’t be watching the tournament games.

    You won’t be watching because they used a slightly incorrect shade of purple? Wild take.

    Ridiculing someone for caring about aesthetics, on a website devoted to aesthetics, is not cool.

    Let’s stick to discussing the designs instead of criticizing other commenters. Thanks.

    Forgive me for draining some of the fun out of this, but at some point I start to wonder what the ROI is on having so many specialty courts.

    Lumber was crazy stupid expensive and even tough to find for a decent amount of time during and after the pandemic (it’s gotten better, but still). Does every event, every uniform, every different thing need a different court? Particularly in an age when we can digitally impose graphics on courts, anyhow?

    I dunno, just trying to think of a way teams can maybe either make a few more dollars or (gasp!), crazy idea I know, not have to charge so much for tickets.

    Yeah, I’d like to know more about these courts. Are these new custom-built ones (like they do for March Madness) or are these large decals put on existing flooring?

    NB: There’s no way they would have done this in the old Boston Garden because the floor was uneven for years. That parquet floor was retired in 1999.

    “…since the colors are based on the teams’ City uniforms, which the teams will be wearing in the In-Season Tourney, I suspect we’ll have a lot of situations where the uniforms blend in with the courts.”

    This was my first thought, well second thought, the first was how bad these will look as actual courts.
    Also, I don’t follow the NBA too closely, so this is the first I am hearing of the in-season tournament. It doesn’t make much sense to me, especially considering that when high schools and colleges do it, it has the benefit of pools of hundreds of teams who typically don’t play each other, to create a quick tournament to play in, whereas the 30 teams playing here are the same 30 teams playing the entire season for the normal playoff.
    Not sure if this is a case of me not understanding it because I’m not the target audience, or something else, but the NBA in season tournament feels as superficial as the endless one-off uniforms they come up with each season.

    I believe the idea behind this tournament is having more eyeballs and coverage to the NBA regular season (in this case, the “special” regular season). That’s why is in the first month of competition, in the midst of the NFL and NHL season, because regular viewership is low for the NBA and only gets traction after the All-Star break. So, instead of shorting the season, they’ve created this halo of “uniqueness” to this games.

    I think the runway idea is actually fun. I feel like someone probably genuinely came up with that and the league ran with it. Personally, I love any opportunity for fun extra courts like this.

    I do agree, though, that a lot of them are ugly and that they’ll horribly blend in with the city uniforms.

    Wow! I pretty much don’t like anything the NBA does these days from an aesthetic standpoint. When I think it has gone too far I hear about these courts. I am amazed.

    Why are we assuming the “runway” design is reverse-engineered? Is it really that hard to believe that somebody thought, “Let’s create a design element that resembles a runway!”?

    It’s pretty funny that, as of this moment, the tournament is called “NBA In-Season Tournament”. I guess no sponsor was willing to pony up for naming rights….

    Also, apparently the games (except for the final) will count in the regular-season NBA standings as well. How will that work? Teams that qualify for the quarterfinals end up with an extra regular season game?

    This whole thing is half-baked and should be shelved.

    In-season tournament is just an excuse to heighten gambling and who cares if a team wins an “in-season” tournament.

    The purpose is to win in the post-season.

    “The [insert mediocre franchise] are in-season champs again”

    Like winning the Presidents trophy in the NHL. Doesn’t matter unless you win the Cup. Otherwise it’s just a reminder that no matter how good your season was (looking at you Bruins), you lost.

    If they would’ve done this properly, winning the in-season tournament could have some prestige, like a special cup. Maybe invite teams from another league (Euroleague, G-League, Canadian League), maybe tweak the format so it highlights some abilities (3v3, ELAM ending, no free-throws, etc); but as we can see with the courts, this hasn’t been done properly and it’s just a mess. No one will care or remember about the in-season champion because it all look like a joke, or worst, a whim.

    In a league where the season is so long that “load management” has become a serious issue, it’s a way to make some early-season games a little more compelling.

    I forgot that San Antonio has a crappy copy of the Space Needle. Well, there it is at midcourt, for all the world to see.

    The SA design is the absolute WORST. Don’t recall their City edition ever showing the Tower of the Americas. Horrible, stupid, just wrong.


    And the final is also an “extra” game — meaning the teams that make the championship will have 83 games on their schedule that count.

    The designs are bad, uninspired, and mediocre. The template idea only works if it can be adaptable to every team, which this doesnt. The colors are not contrasting enough in some of them to differentiate the paint-area from the rest of the court (Jazz, Memphis, Hawks and all the grey ones), some colors could be really eye-soaring and distracting for players and viewers (Knicks, Suns and all the red ones), like Paul said, players’ uniforms could blend (mostly on TV) with the court (Hornets) and for the casual viewer, this still doesn’t says is the “In-Season Tournament”.

    I know they want to make an statement, but they could accomplish that by having the name of the thing on the court (ala March Madness), maybe the trophy, or special uniforms (the City edition, like the Christmas games). The funny courts just cheapens the whole idea, instead of give gravitas to the event.

    Agree. The whole in-season tournament is awful enough (ditto for the one in the WNBA), and these eye sore court designs make it seem less important, not more. I don’t hate on the designers who designed these — I’m just shaking my head at the decision makers who commanded them.

    Is the plan for all teams to wear City unis for all games? That’s going to be A LOT of gray vs gray games.

    Seems odd that some teams have slogans or whatever they are on them, and some don’t. Why do only some designs have these?

    They literally gave a team in Michigan a scarlet and gray court. I cannot believe this.

    Good Lord the majority of these are awful, almost like looking at Triple A courts. Aside from a handful, if you didn’t know the nickname or whatever they call it, you’d be hard pressed to know what NBA team they’re referring to.

    Dear Suns, “The Valley” is the San Fernando Valley just north of LA…Phoenix is “The Valley of the Sun”

    Is “The Valley of the Sun” too long for a jersey so they shortened it? But whatever. Nike going to Nike. NBA going to NBA.

    I’m all for evolving. Adapting. Change is good. This just has a sloppy group project feel to it and thought this was a reader with court concepts for fun. Had no idea it was real until I read the post.

    This may not actually be factually correct (gonna have to double check) but I think this is the very first time in franchise history that the Lakers have used an alternate court during the regular season.

    Also, no wonder they went with the yellow (re: gold) for the Lakers’ court… They can’t really go with an all-black court, can they?

    So stupid on many levels: the courts look terrible without any visible woodgrain (like the league they look very artificial), the uniformity is appalling, the mostly horrible City Edition uniforms will look even worse, the Cup itself is very ugly (and depicted hugely three times) plus the whole concept is like trying to copy Euro soccer with its overload of meaningless games. The NBA seems to be totally clueless in an age where basketball is very popular on a global scale. As if they try to mimic an unlicensed video game.
    The only thing I like is Leon Bridges’signature on the Mavs court (I like his music). That Spurs logo looks like a puking sun.

    What soccer games do you think are meaningless? For me it’s the plethora of international fixtures outside of actual qualifiers and international competitions.

    UEFA teams have way too many fixtures, including pre-season tours. Plus the top players have to compete in various meaningless competitions which heighten the chances of getting injured. I think the NBA would love to increase the number of games being played both home and overseas. Greed.

    I’d argue that the very nature of basketball (and the NBA) being a global game is exactly why they’re pushing these concepts like in season tourneys and a billion uniforms. More opportunities to sell merch.

    If this stuff wasn’t selling it would be long discontinued by now.

    I mean, it’s the owners, right? Pressuring people to make something to get fans excited, forgetting great games is what will keep people coming back. I don’t watch a lot of basketball and this will turn me away from tuning in.

    I mean, it’s the owners, right? Pressuring people to make something to get fans excited, forgetting great games is what will keep people coming back. I don’t watch a lot of basketball and this will turn me away from tuning in.

    What I like is the lede picture with all these courts: from a distance it looks like a collection of old cassette tapes.

    Supposedly, this is to generate more viewership during the regular season. Well, the NBA didn’t go bankrupt last season. The NBA didn’t go bankrupt the year before. So, for the NBA, this is basically, “Yeah. But we need more money”.

    You guys are no fun. I think this is kind of cool. And I’m not particularly young.

    Don’t think anyone said no one isn’t fun. Being young has nothing to do with it. My little league and youth years were in the thick of the 90s and I thought all of it was out of control. Little did I know what was coming. Even when I was a kid I loved the classic looks of teams and still do.

    As always like PL says let’s see it in action but I already have an idea that it will look bad based on if you’ve ever seen Boise St or E Wash play on TV it’s an ugly watch. Blue and Red fields.

    Also it always seems the default for anything new is well it’s for the younger audience or the kids. Which feels like a horrible excuse. Still most popular teams these days continue to be Yankees, Cowboys, Lakers which all haven’t done very many extreme changes. I see more young kids wearing Mitchell and Ness throwbacks than I do city connects or whatever.

    The execution is poor, but the idea is good: most people won’t care one bit about pool games for a tourney, and making some changes is a good way to get people to at least notice.

    I’d assume opposing teams may wear their city editions in some of these games, which could make for some weird visuals.

    Biggest question is how does this look on TV… the Memphis Tigers have an all blue/gray court that’s simply unwatchable but I’d assume the NBA knows better.

    Is it just me, or does it seem kinda wasteful to have all these special “alternative” courts”? My guess is they will be assembled for a few games, then reside in storage for the rest of the year.

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