In their 50-year NBA existence, the Milwaukee Bucks played some of their most impactful basketball on the most unique floor in the league.
Designed by American pop artist Robert Indiana, the famous MECCA court (it stood for Milwaukee Exposition, Convention Center and Arena) debuted in 1977 at the Bucks' original home and served the team until they left for the Bradley Center in 1988. With its end-to-end abutting "M"s and colorful palette, the court remains the only one in NBA history completely covered in paint — more than two-dozen gallons' worth. To commemorate the Bucks' golden anniversary, and the floor's 40th, the team received Indiana's permission to commission a replica for a special "Return to MECCA" game played at the old arena (now UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena) last October. A three-week re-creation process began with a new Connor maple floor, assembled, sanded, sealed and painted in layers using the same PMS colors and fonts as the original, before receiving requisite top coatings. Some observers were convinced the colors were different, but Phil Sanchez, a representative of finish materials provider Bona, explains, "The water-based finish that was put on top didn't have the oily amber look that the original floor would have had, so the actual visual is a little bit different, but the design and the colors were all the same." Intended to serve just one home-away-from-home game, the floor now resides in Oshkosh, Wis., at a new facility hosting the Wisconsin Herd, the Bucks' G League franchise, where it will remain as a practice floor for at least one year. That unexpected news pleased Hal Koller, president of ProStar Surfaces Inc., the official Bucks' floor-care provider behind the re-creation. "Being a wood guy, it seems odd to be proud of something where you've covered up all the wood," says Koller, whose family owns the original (albeit unplayable) court currently in storage. "But it's still art."
This article originally appeared in the April 2018 issue of Athletic Business with the title "Design Details: Bucks re-create a work of art for one NBA game." Athletic Business is a free magazine for professionals in the athletic, fitness and recreation industry. Click here to subscribe.