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Floored by NBA’s Ugliness

Has anyone noticed anything really ugly while watching the TV highlights of the basketball season’s opening games? Not only a little ugly, but seriously, seriously ugly?

I don’t mean the players. I don’t mean the coaches. I don’t mean the cheerleaders, the referees, the towel kids, the fan with the nacho cheese on his chin, the owner, the owner’s date, the owner’s date’s tattoo or those media people sitting there in their $29 suits.

I mean the floor.

Yes, the floor.

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Check out the paint job on the hardwood court of the Charlotte, N.C., arena, where the Hornets play. Or the floor in the Summit arena, which the two-time NBA champion Houston Rockets call home.

They are the gyms from hell.

I’ve seen better art on parents’ refrigerators. Andy Warhol would have found these places tacky. Some artist has gone and made each arena look like Salvador Dali’s rec room. He must have shot paint out of a squirt gun. Either that, or somebody turned a kindergarten class loose with the big, 64-color Crayola box.

Quick, call Earl Scheib. He can do it over for you, cheap. Or else commission Red Skelton to draw a clown face over it. Do something. Here, here’s 50 bucks. Run over to Standard Brands and ask for two gallons of off-white and a roller.

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Charlotte’s arena now looks like Graceland, only gaudy. All it needs are red velvet ropes. It’s as if the Hornets hired two new interior designers--the Riddler and the Joker. Their floor has more colors than a bag of Gummy Bears, and the top of the free-throw circle now resembles a gigantic orange basketball. Liberace would have taken one look at this place and said: “Too much.”

As for the Summit, it’s the pits. I don’t know who put the hues in Houston, but there are Planet Hollywood franchises more subdued. What did they do, borrow 12 chimpanzees from NASA, then hand them palettes and sable brushes? Hakeem Olajuwon must feel like he’s playing basketball at a Chuck E. Cheese.

Look, I know these are only gymnasiums, where grown-up boys bounce air-filled leather balls. They don’t have to be austere. Leona Helmsley doesn’t have to personally put a mint on every seat. But come on, they can have a little taste. Charlotte and Houston probably think they look cool. Sure, so does Andrew Dice Clay.

I saw a game on TV recently from Europe--Spain, I think--where the entire gym floor was illustrated like a freeway overpass. I don’t mean a splash here and a dash there. I mean every inch of wood was painted with some elaborate, grand design. It was like the Pope called in Michelangelo and said: “Same thing you did with the ceiling, only lower.”

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Made me miss old Boston Garden, with its bolts and cracks and rats popping out of their holes, asking Larry Bird: “Hey, what’s the score?” At least that termite-ridden parquet floor looked like a real gym. I haven’t seen Boston’s new building yet, but I hope they didn’t paint the floor green. It would look like Wimbledon.

I can’t find the puck at hockey games sometimes. With these new gymnasiums, I can’t always find the basketball. Maybe they should paint the ball white.

This is the ugliest trend in sport. Gymnasium abuse.

I can’t imagine anything worse.

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Oh, except the uniforms.

Have you seen some of these outfits these NBA teams are wearing now? I thought it got bad last season, when the Cleveland Cavaliers showed up wearing costumes from the Bozo T. Clown men’s store, and the Atlanta Hawks came up with something that Hester Prynne wouldn’t wear, and the Denver Nuggets’ new unis looked like Viet Cong camouflage gear.

But things are getting worse. And the newest offenders are our old friends, the Houston Rockets, whose new threads must have been custom-made by Hart, Schaffner & Harpo Marx. Wait’ll you get a load of these. Hakeem and the Technicolor Dreamcoat. Wow, I’ve seen classier looks on people wearing lobster bibs.

Another ugly trend.

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In fact, I’ve got a new slogan for the NBA this season.

NBA action . . . it’s gross!


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