This past Friday October 25, 2013, I tuned into a Toronto Raptors and Milwaukee Bucks preseason game that was being hosted by the Bucks. I then came across an article that had been written later that night, which was unusual considering that most articles are written and posted the day after the game. What was most appealing about this article is that in all my years of watching NBA games, I have never heard of a game being cancelled because of concerns regarding the condition of the playing surface. There are numerous teams around the league who share their arena with a hockey team, where night-to-night the playing surface has to be changed from hardwood floor to ice and vice versa. However, the condition of the playing surface has never really been an issue during pregame warm-ups or even once the game has already commenced.
The three officials for the game had stopped play several times throughout the first quarter, but at 5:58 left in the quarter after several players had slipped and fallen on both ends of the court, the officials called for a timeout to discuss amongst each other and with the team coaches how to proceed with the game. After about 20-30 minutes of discussion, the decision was announced throughout the arena that the game would not be played due to fear of injury, traction, and player safety. As mentioned earlier, the Bradley Center is one of those arenas that host basketball and hockey games on different nights, but according to the lead official, Danny Crawford, condensation was not the issue which raised questions about the finishing of the court surface.
Now what is interesting here that the topic of the “finishing of the court surface” was brought up, is the fact that the Bucks had recently unveiled their new floor for the 2013-14 NBA season that night, and that the team had only played on the court once for practice because they usually practice at a separate facility. Furthermore, what makes this a huge issue, and why it caught my eye and has been a topic of discussion, is the fact that this court problem comes at a time when the Bucks are pushing for public support to build a new arena for the team. Bucks head coach Larry Drew believes that this will not be an issue moving forward, but do you think the damage has already been done? Has this preseason game cancellation hindered the Bucks chance of pushing for public funding to build a new arena? When it comes to deciding to cancel a game, is there already a policy put in place to guide the decision, or did the officials just react on a whim because these were unforeseen events? Lastly, who’s responsibility might it be to ensure that the court surface is playable, the facility manager/staff, the event manager, league officials, or host team officials/staff?