Oregon’s New Court: An Unvarnished Rorschach Test?

Posted by rtmsf on November 7th, 2010

Phil Knight is known as many things, but being a bore isn’t one of them.  The founder of Nike who has launched hundreds of campaigns of cool over the past three decades is a well-known University of Oregon supporter, and his creative stamp on Duck uniforms has given legions of commentators great discussion material over the years.   As we all know, Oregon’s brand new hoops home, the Matthew Knight Arena, is scheduled to open for business in early 2011 and the Nike CEO may have outdone himself this time with its design.  Or more specifically, the design of the centerpiece of the building — the Ducks’ basketball floor.

Is It a Rorschach Test or a Basketball Floor?

This isn’t the best photo, but the floor, designed by Nike’s VP for Design and Special Projects Tinker Hatfield, depicts the evergreen forests that the Pacific Northwest is known for with the motto “Deep in the Woods.”  There’s also a secondary meaning behind the floor, as UO’s 1939 national title team (in the first NCAA Tournament) was nicknamed the “Tall Firs.”  Hatfield, who may have staked his reputation and career on this design, had this to say: “We wanted to design the most iconic television presence possible for the University of Oregon by conjuring up a highly unique and visible basketball floor design. It’s inspired by our beautiful tree-covered region and the UO 1939 NCAA Championship basketball team nick-named the ‘Tall Firs.’”

Score one for unique and visible.  But unless Hatfield was going for the always-hip unvarnished Rorschach Test look, we’re not sure what he was thinking.  Looking at this thing makes us want to climb down there with a bucket of paint and a few brushes — well, after we’ve spent an hour wondering why the iconic Oregon “O” sits upon what appears to be a Stonehenge structure that spells out Tatt (ed. note: obviously, it is supposed to read “Matt”).  Other than wondering where that damn sailboat is hidden, we see a few problems with this floor.  First of all, the actual floor doesn’t have nearly the contrast of the artist’s rendition (see below), but we’re honestly not sure if that would make it better or worse.  Next, other than the emerald in the lettering and playing lines, this floor doesn’t really appear to capture the school’s primary colors of green and yellow.  It looks more like wood color, which would be fine on its own if they weren’t actually going for something else.

Color us skeptical, but maybe this floor will look a lot better in high-definition television with 12,000 green/yellow-clad screaming fans around it come January, but for now, we’re more aghast at this design than anything else.  This floor in its current form is definitely a candidate for our Ugly Floors post from a couple of years back.  We will say this about Oregon, though — more than any other school in America, they’re willing to try new and imaginative things, even if those attempts are incredibly  ugly and easily mocked.

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Paging Our Ophthalmologist…

Posted by rtmsf on January 21st, 2009

Ed. note:  if you have some nominees that we missed, send them to us at rushthecourt@yahoo.com or leave it in the comments and we’ll try to get a photo up…

While we were sitting around watching a closer-than-it-should-have-been game between Memphis and Central Florida a couple of weekends ago, it occurred to us that we were spending more time staring at the appallingly hideous UCF Knight plastered onto the middle of the floor.  And when the tv cameras took us to one end of the court, away from the menacing black knight ready to swallow up half of the players, my eyes were forced to contrast their two-tone floor where everything within the three point line was one color (light beige) and everything outside of it, another (beige).   It was horrible.  But our visual disaster is your gain, as it gave us an idea for a neat post comparing the ugliest home floors in America.

Central Florida – UCF Arena


The first thing we did was contact our loyal RTC correspondents, because who else will know about some abominable court hidden away in the Big Mountain South USA whatever Conference than our guys.  Here are some of their entries:

Eastern Michigan – Convocation Center

It’s never a good thing when you start painting giant basketballs on the court and coloring in the three-point areas.  Never.  A.  Good.  Thing.


Moving to the Big 12, which has not one, but two nominees…

Texas A&M – Reed Arena

We’re uncertain what bugs us about this particular floor, other than the bizarre checkerboard parquet and the enormous outline of the state of Texas in the middle of it.   Yeah, Texas is a big state, but come on…  And the T-star situation isn’t helping – what is that thing??  We thought the A&M logo always had the letters “A” and “M” in it.


Baylor – Ferrell Center

This one isn’t all that bad except for one minor major annoyance – unless you’re sitting in the first five rows, who thought it was a good idea to paint the new 3-point line in yellow on a hardwood-colored floor?  Especially when watching Baylor on tv, it’s nearly impossible to track what is a three and what isn’t a three because of that fact (sorry, we haven’t moved to HD in the RTC West Coast Compound yet).


Georgia Tech – Alexander Memorial Coliseum

This place has always bothered us – something about the deli mustard borders and the gigantic bee in the middle of the floor.  Why not go with the black/gold setup like Vandy or Wake instead?


Colorado State – Moby Arena

Oh, Lord, no…  this just can’t be allowed to continue.  The photo isn’t great but you can clearly make out the outline of a ram’s horns all over this court.


Boise State – Taco Bell Arena

But the school that takes the cake, not once, but twice, has to be our blue-turfed friends in Boise.  Both incarnations of their home floor in recent years (the top is their current one) have been downright offensive (the horse heads are bad enough, but we esp. hate the half-basketballs in the corners).



Princeton – Jadwin Gymnasium

Honorable mention goes to Princeton, not so much for its floor (which is solid) but for its multipurpose arena known as Jadwin Gymnasium.  The space-age Epcot-style lighting and airport-hangar background there really scares us.   For Chrissakes, they have temporary restraining walls on the sidelines so the ball doesn’t roll into the indoor track/field area.  What a disaster.



Reader nominees:

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