The B.S. Report: Michelle Beadle

The Wet Stuff

The Definitive NBA Court Design Power Rankings

Everything you ever needed to know about the past, present, and future of the league's hardwood homes

Welcome to what might become an annual tradition in these parts: using the doldrums of August and September to evaluate one of those bits of style that define the sensory experience of the NBA. When you’re living and breathing the league, every piece of flair takes on an outsize meaning — the mascots, announcers, arena structures, and dysfunction of League Pass Broadband.

About a year ago, I attempted a nonscientific ranking of all 30 team nicknames. This year, I’ve turned to something dearer to my NBA fiend soul: court designs, perhaps the closest thing the NBA has to large-scale works of art. The rankings are subjective, though I’ve consulted with sources across the league just for the fun of it, gotten my hands on some exclusive mock-ups of designs set to be unveiled this season, and even chatted with some court designers.

We are entering a phase of high art in the court design space; every redesign for this season, save one, is an emphatic upgrade.

30. Cleveland Cavaliers


This is actually an improvement over the court Cleveland used three seasons ago, which shaded the entire circle around the foul line in that brownish “wine” shade and featured two-toned wood on the bulk of the court — a design in which the wood within the 3-point arc is a different shade than the wood elsewhere on the floor.

Two-toning got popular in the mid-2000s, and while it persists in some places, designers have gradually phased it out. Count me in favor of the phaseout. I prefer uniform color for the non-paint wood.

In any case, the Cavs have never been able to get their court right. Their color scheme can be hard to digest in big slices, and though they keep changing the center-court logo, they seem determined to make it as large as possible. That giant “C” damn near touches both 3-point arcs, and at 638.4 square feet,1 it is the league’s largest logo by a huge margin. You could rent that thing for $2,000 a month in Manhattan.

The mini-C’s with swords slicing through them are tasty, and the “All for One” slogan along the near sideline is an artful reminder of what exactly a Cavalier is.

29. Phoenix Suns


This is a court design tragedy, considering some of the creative gambles that came before it, including this bad boy from the 1990s. When you have that pretty shade of purplish blue in your color scheme, there is no justification for phasing it out and making it Halloween 365 days a year.

One cool quirk: The designers matched up the “u” and “n” in the center-court logo so that it reads “Suns” from any viewing angle. But only Cleveland’s central logo stretches farther in the direction of each baseline, and I prefer my logos more contained. Subtract points for the two-toned thing. At least the Suns have found a sliver of space for the flaming basketball emblazoned with “PHX.” That was the center-court logo at the end of the Steve Nash era, and it’s snazzier than the current iteration:


You’ll notice the predecessor court left the center of the paint blank and colored only the edges in orange. That was also a major trend in the late 2000s, and several teams that featured it then — Phoenix, San Antonio, Cleveland, Toronto, Houston, others — have ditched it since.

28. Houston Rockets


Houston has gone the other direction and removed the paint almost entirely. It’s a clean look, and the Rockets have the right kind of color — a very sharp red — to try this without creating something too dreary.

But this comes off as a meal in need of some seasoning. It’s too plain. The center-court logo is smart and understated, using the jets of exhaust puffing out from the bottom of the “R” to conjure the image of a whooshing rocket without beating you over the head with it. And Houston, I’m afraid, has a history of beating you over the head with space-inspired court designs. That is a freaking abomination. 

Two-toning lives on here, too, though the Rockets have the wood inside the 3-point arc in a lighter shade than the rest of the court — the opposite of the Suns’ choice.

27. Oklahoma City Thunder


The Thunder would have ranked last had we done this exercise four years ago. Oklahoma City tried to touch every base in building its color scheme, meshing elements of the state flag, the sun, and referents to the local college teams. It’s ended up with a color-logo combination that is evocative of nothing. The blue and orange just feel generic.

The Thunder did well to unclutter the court by using the same blue all the way around, and the white font spelling out the team’s name pops against that blue. It’s a big improvement from 2010-11, when the Thunder featured this tricolored mess of a painted area:


The Thunder’s alternate dark blue jerseys also fell flat. This franchise feels ripe for a total design overhaul. Should we mention how awesome the Sonics’ colors and court design were? We probably shouldn’t, right?

26. Minnesota Timberwolves


This is the most extreme two-toning in the league, and the effect is all over the place — the caramel-covered wood in the middle, the two-faced nature of the center-court wolf, and the blue paint with black edging.

The blue-black paint is the right kind of cool, and it makes a crisp contrast with the white dotted line and block/charge circle. I’ve always liked the font the Wolves use for their team name, and they found an unobtrusive way to slide “Minnesota” in above “Timberwolves” a few years ago.

This isn’t that bad. That it’s this low shows how healthy the league’s court-design environment will be this season. But the two-toned wood and growling wolf, trying and failing to be fearsome, are enough to knock it all the way down here.

25. Utah Jazz


Utah has gone through a half-dozen redesigns over the last 25 years, and since 2010, it’s shifted away from the powdery blue color and mountain logo — and back to the dark blue–green-gold trifecta that has always been at the heart of its color scheme.

That’s the right move. Those three colors hold splendid depth, and the powder/mountain motif of the Deron Williams era came off as an imitation of Denver’s court. Shading the paint dark green was perhaps a step too far. That green has been a fringe part of Utah’s color scheme, but the Jazz have shoved it toward center stage as part of a marketing plan that includes alternate green jerseys.

Having all three colors coalescing under the basket is busy, even if none of them clash. The Jazz might be better off revisiting the early 1990s, when they used navy blue for the paint and baselines and demoted the green to its natural role as part of the center-court logo and sideline trim.

Utah can fall no lower than this as long as it keeps that musical note “J” in a prominent spot. That thing is perfect.

24. Miami Heat Miami

Where Utah’s court is “blah” and inoffensive, the wrong viewer could find Miami’s miasma of orange, yellow, and slanted white font almost disorienting. Miami has had this court since 2004-05, making it one of the most well-worn among all present-day designs, and it was a big step from the Heat’s earlier all-black paint.

Give the Heat credit for risk-taking. The orange-yellow combination in the paint is too busy and bright for me, but it fits the flame motif, and it’s certainly not boring. The white font is strange, and the 485-square-foot central logo, the league’s third-largest, greedily chomps up too much of the court.

23. Dallas Mavericks


I have no reaction to the Mavericks’ court. It’s like a turkey sandwich — perfectly functional, totally unmemorable. Blue-on-blue has never been my favorite color combination, and the logo of a horse head morphing into a basketball is artsy, ambitious, and, in the end, weirdly unsettling.

Points for a clean look, though. The central logo is small and one of nine leaguewide that form a perfect square when outlined. There is no two-toned nonsense, and the Mavs have doubled down on in-the-paint cleanliness by removing the college lane markers that create the need for painted edges in the first place.

The four stars, one in each corner, add a nice dash of Texas patriotism. For reasons that are unclear, this court also looks better on TV than it does in person. The floor has a nice TV shine.

22. San Antonio Spurs


This is our first major change for this season: The Spurs, for the first time in their recent history (and possibly for the first time in franchise history), are eliminating the spelled-out “SPURS” at center court in favor of a standalone image of the spur logo. The poor Coyote mascot must be distraught; he would leap from letter to letter during timeouts, imploring the crowd to chant “S-P-U-R-S” as he landed. 

This largely comes down to how much you enjoy the silver-and-black combination, because, holy hell, there is a lot of silver and black on this court. It’s ominous and unfriendly, perfect for a franchise that would prefer no media attention, suffers occasional bat and snake infestations, and sometimes struggles to maintain technologies — like air conditioning and wireless Internet — that make the NBA game experience a bit friendlier.

I like the silver-and-black combination, and so the Spurs finish no lower than here. But this is a drab affair, and the new central logo is monstrous. It runs 25 feet from top to bottom, the largest logo height among 30 teams, and the shadowing that makes the spur appear three-dimensional looks like a graphics effect from a mid-1990s personal computer.

21. Los Angeles Clippers


This is perhaps the most boringly inoffensive court in the league, and “inoffensive” is a fine goal for this franchise right now. It’s bright, with pleasing shades of light red and blue, a two-toned wooden design so subtle you almost don’t notice it, and a tilted baseline font that evokes the wind-aided sails of the ships for which the team is named.2

But there’s something antiquated about the center-court script, with its red-and-white candy cane outline, and the 23-foot logo juts out too far toward the 3-point arcs for my taste.

There’s nothing wrong with this sunny court. A half-decade ago, it would have ranked a few spots higher.

20. Washington Wizards


Case in point: The Wiz over the last 10 years have gone through a mess of designs featuring a robed wizard traipsing across center court, an all-gold paint with a blue half-circle above the foul line, a total absence of red, two-toned everything, and other examples of ill-fated messiness. 

The Wiz jump a few spots with a redesign on track for this season that dispenses with the simplistic “Wizards” scrawled across half court in favor of the classic “DC” logo, with a hand popping out of the “D” and reaching high for a basketball. That’s a piece of NBA high art, and under the most recent Wiz design, it had been relegated to a small slice of territory in the corner. 

The Wiz are also erasing the college lanes, creating a clear painted area, and swapping out navy for red as the paint color. It appears to be a bright red, and it will take time to conclude how it looks as a centerpiece color. The baselines are also getting a makeover — from red with blue lettering to the inverse.

The two-toned wood, alas, remains, and the Wiz have long had a lighting system that dulls the court. But this is a good step. The stars along the near sideline add a splash of nation’s capital fun.

19. New Orleans Pelicans

We’ll have to redo this ranking once the season starts. The Pelicans have a brave proposed court redesign that might be the league’s boldest, but they have not received final approval to deploy it this season, per several league sources. 

Last year’s debut was a solid first crack, with an angry pelican holding a ball in its beak at center court, a soft gold painted area that was probably too dull, and the nifty incorporation of the fleur-de-lis in two of the four corners.

Let’s place them here for now and revisit later.

18. Milwaukee Bucks


This is a totally unique court design in today’s NBA. It’s a testament to Milwaukee’s courage that one year in, I still can’t decide if this throwback to the Mecca, with giant “M’s” shaded into the wood on either side of half court, is genius or just busy-for-the-sake-of-busy. 

The dark forest green is the best part of Milwaukee’s color scheme — the one that sets it apart from other teams — so it’s good the Bucks have emphasized it after the hybrid blue-green mix of the Ray Allen–Glenn Robinson“Big Balls” Cassell era.

Can we please dispense with this soulless buck head that looks like it’s engaging in a staredown before eating me and return to the whimsical buck spinning a basketball on its hoof? Would anyone oppose this?

17. Memphis Grizzlies Memphis

This is the highest-ranking court among Southwest Division teams. That division needs some design help, stat.

This is a bit chaotic, with the blue paint, yellow edges, multicolored bear head, and striped letters spelling out “Memphis” and “Grizzlies” on either sideline. But the colors go together, and using Beale Street blue for the 3-point arc and other markings provides some local flavor.

The Grizz, like about half the league’s teams, have opted to leave all four corners blank instead of splashing mini-logos in two of them. That makes for a pristine look, but teams with strong potential alternate logos have made good use of that space. The old Grizz logo, with a bear claw enveloping a basketball, would look nice there.

16. Sacramento Kings


The Kings are throwing out what had been a distinctive purple-and-black look in favor of a proposed new all-purple design they haven’t yet announced. The old court had black trim on all four sides, with the word “Sacramento” etched into the baselines in blocky letters and a wood-colored shade that almost matched the main court. The painted area also had black edges, erased here in favor of an all-purple lane. 

The court remains distinctive, immediately identifiable as the Kings’, and the “Sacramento Proud” on the near sideline is a deserved reminder of the battles this franchise and its fans have fought and won.

The two corner crowns are a nice decorative touch, but I’ve never been a fan of the huge and messy variation of the Kings’ logo that populates center court; only four logos soak up more square footage. There is a ton of purple here, and we’ll have to see how it looks as a finished product on a grand scale.

15. Denver Nuggets


This is going to strike fans as low, and I can’t really blame them, especially since they haven’t seen a few of the redesigns that are still coming. Look: Powder blue is always a winner. So are the crossing pickaxes at center court. The mountain logo slapped in two opposite corners is a nice nod to past color schemes, and a solid logo in its own right.

Here’s what I can’t get over: the move about three years ago to paint the boundaries a much darker shade of blue, and the cartoonish font spelling “Denver Nuggets” in lettering so big it swallows up the entire baseline. There is only an inch or so between the court and the tip of that lettering, and it would be nice to have some breathing space there. 

Subtler lettering and an adjustment in the blue-on-blue clash would vault this sucker up where it belongs.

14. Detroit Pistons


The Pistons returned to the Bad Boys red-and-blue roots after a brief mid-1990s flirtation with teal awfulness, and they’ve wisely stuck with tradition ever since. The blue-and-red make for arguably the best two-toned paint in the league (there’s really only one other candidate), the red boundaries are intense, and the gap between “Detroit” and “Pistons” leaves an interesting red void underneath the basket.

I can’t decide if the gap is pleasing or disjointed, and the center-court logo, hogging 480 square feet of prime territory, is the league’s sixth-largest — too big and loud for my taste. I prefer this version, but I’m not sure if that’s because the logo is actually better, or because I’m a bit of a cranky old man.

13. Indiana Pacers


This is a well-designed court that looks pleasant on television and in person. Having a darker shade of wood along the entire floor, uninterrupted aside from the paint, is unique among the 30 teams, and it’s gorgeous. The Pacers have the smallest center-court logo in the league, and it retains that gloriously funky “P” with the accelerating yellow ball inside of it.

There are no logos in the corners, no college lanes in the paint, nothing beyond an understated printing of the team’s name along the baselines and sidelines. It is the perfect, simple representation of basketball in Indiana: “We are here for a basketball game, and that is all.” 

It has a bit of that Rockets all-wood, no-paint feel to it, and that’s especially so because the Pacers have had some creative court designs in their franchise history. The circle around the foul line was a yellow basketball during much of Reggie Miller’s heyday, and I miss the alternate Pacers logo that featured a hand propelling that yellow ball forward. 

12. New York Knicks


Alan Hahn of MSG and other places has long agitated for a return to the all-blue paint the Knicks have used for much of their history. About 15 years ago, the Knicks even tried a hybrid orange painted area with a filled-in blue circle surrounding the foul line.

Count me as a fan of the all-orange look. Everyone uses blue. It’s a neutral color, the easy go-to for any team in any sport that doesn’t have a better idea. Orange is rare, and emphasizing it like this emits the kind of confidence and glitz befitting the big city’s team. The rich blue works well along the boundaries, and the white lettering calls attention to the team’s name without dominating the viewing experience as it does in Denver.

I have never loved the Knicks logo, with the underlying blue triangle and the 3-D orange letters puffing themselves out like a bad laundry detergent label. It looks like something a superhero would wear on his chest. That’s not a bad thing, but a team of this stature, with this history in this city, should do better.

One tidbit: Madison Square Garden is one of just a handful of arenas that uses theater-style lighting, which darkens the audience and spotlights the court to place it in the highest possible relief. It gives any game the air of a stage show, and it looks fantastic — both in person and on television.

11. Orlando Magic


It’s just hard to go wrong with a blue-black combination and a parquet-style floor. There’s a reason everyone loves those throwback pinstriped black jerseys.

The Magic have wisely uncluttered the paint, going with an NBA-only all-blue look after toggling over the years between various combination designs featuring both their main colors. It’s possible to accentuate your color scheme without overdoing it. 

The little touches are nice. The shooting star basketball brightens two of the four corners, and the Magic, like the Grizzlies, are smart to use their shade of blue for the 3-point arc. Too many teams settle for white or black arcs instead of trying something more colorful. 

The one knock: a large rounded font that monopolizes each baseline. Less can be more, and the softer font feels nonthreatening to enemy visitors. 

10. Toronto Raptors


This is probably the best court design ever for a franchise that has screwed around with dribbling dinosaurs, ugly multicolored paint designs, 3-D optical illusions, and way too much purple.

The illusion that made it look as if every player that walked under the hoop would trip and fall is scheduled to be cut for this season, and the Raptors have shifted to black sidelines with a stately silver-gray lettering — a foreboding look.

The center logo, a dinosaur claw with a basketball palm, is as good as could be expected given the mascot, and the circle-within-a-circle design echoes the very nature of a sport that involves tossing a sphere through a circle. The Raptors know they tapped a nerve with the “We the North” rallying cry from last postseason, and they couldn’t exactly slap “Fuck Brooklyn” or “Fuck Every Other Team” onto their court. 

It’s interesting that the Raps have moved away from true purple and settled on this shade of reddish-purple as their core color. There have long been rumors of a rebranding and possible black-and-gold uniforms, but the Raptors finally look good.

9. Atlanta Hawks


This is welcome news for a franchise synonymous with boredom and suddenly navigating serious turmoil. With one overdue redesign, the Hawks will transform their court from moribund bottom-10 status into one of the league’s very best.

The Pac is back, baby! The Hawk clutching a basketball in its claws wasn’t awful, but you just can’t beat the Pac-Man-style logo the Hawks used in their glory days. This is like the friendly Milwaukee deer spinning a basketball — a logo so well-loved, it’s unclear why the franchise ever went away from it.

The paint is a shiny red, and the absence of any lane markings just makes the red shine brighter. The thin red outlining of the white “Atlanta Hawks” emphasizes the preeminence of red with this franchise. The Hawks have always used orange-red shades, but the court mostly eliminated it for run-of-the-mill navy paint and gold trim. It was stagnant. It could have belonged to any team.

I’m still not sure about the blue trim. The old Omni was an all-red affair, and while that can appear harsh, the Hawks over the last decade have given blue a more important place in their schematic universe than it deserves. Perhaps that was a natural reaction to the red menace court of the early 2000s.

Both Atlanta and Toronto may leap a spot or two once we see the finished products live, but for now, we have to slot them here and respect these last eight incumbent beauties.

8. Portland Trail Blazers

PortlandThis is the only 2014-15 redesign that strikes me as a downgrade. The Blazers are joining the two-toned club, though their midcourt wood is more muted than Minnesota’s glazed coating, and at least they’re making an effort to zig one way as the league zags the other.

They’re also going back to a standard painted area after leaving the paint below the foul line blank and filling only the top half of the semicircle with their trademark Blazer red:


They were the only team in the league with that look; they eliminated the colored edges of the paint that had become so in vogue a few years ago but left the red half-circle. It was a cool compromise, something that set Portland apart.

But the Blazers can fall only so low as long as they keep that pinwheel logo, the greatest piece of abstract art in American pro sports. The red and white stripes, five of each, are meant to represent players on two opposing teams working together and then crisscrossing with their enemies in a balletic blur. If basketball is poetry, the Blazers’ logo is the only one that encapsulates the sport’s poetic nature.

7. Golden State Warriors


What a joyful piece of art, harmed only by the red Oracle logos that are too big and clash with the yellow-and-blue scheme.

The blue lane markers work here in ways they don’t elsewhere; without them, the court might appear too yellow. There is nothing quite like the center-court logo, a silhouette of the Bay Bridge and a throwback to the organization’s old marks, and the strong blue in that logo is another nice counterpoint to the yellow.

The 3-point arc is blue, the font on the baseline is understated, and this is another court that brightens up even more on television. A high-definition Warriors game feels like a big deal.

There’s nothing wrong here. If yellow is a top-three color for you, this is your favorite court in the league. I’m not a yellow guy, so it falls to no. 7.

6. Philadelphia 76ers


This subdued piece of heaven whispers the history of all the great teams that have come before, and of this city, which has produced so many NBA stars and collegiate showdowns.

The maroon and blue mix well, because neither one is shouting. They are muted and soft. The font is old-school, harking to the franchise’s 1960s-era dominance with Wilt Chamberlain, and the center-court logo is one of the two best in the league — a simple basketball, but with such subtle detailing. The red “7” is so nice, and there are 13 stars above it representing the 13 original American colonies.

The lighting and atmosphere are a bit dull in person, but Philly has a permanent spot near the top of these rankings. There probably has never been a greater disconnect between a team’s on-court product and its overall aesthetic presentation.

5. Chicago Bulls


A lot of people would put this at no. 1, and that’s fine. We’re well into the territory where there are no wrong choices. The blaring red, the snorting bull head, the red 3-point arc, the white lining, the black trim — it’s all pretty great.

There are two small details worth mulling. The baseline font is huge and round, a little balloon-y — like something out of an animated TV show. Chicago is the only team to scatter four logos around the court, two on each side. There is an urban legend among Chicago fans that Phil Jackson and Tex Winter ordered the placement of those four logos so players would know where to go within the triangle offense, but it’s hard to find substantial proof. The bull-head logos preceded Jackson’s tenure, but they were closer to midcourt when Chicago first hired him as an assistant.

Steve Kerr, who played five seasons in Chicago, says Jackson and the coaching staff would indeed use the bull heads as guideposts — but not as precise targets. Wing players were taught to spot the heads, slide an extra step or two toward the sideline, and initiate the triangle from there, Kerr says.

Most teams use just two such logos, placed diagonally across the court from each other. I’m curious how the court would look in that style. Is five total bull heads too many? I still can’t decide, and that indecision nags.

4. Brooklyn Nets


It might seem sacrilegious to give such a young court this lofty perch, but wait until you see what comes next. The black-and-white look stands out in a league of bright colors, and like black-and-white film, it lends the Nets a sheen of effortless cool. The central logo, just a basketball with words around it, is another testament that less can be more in design.

The ideal court is idiosyncratic without resorting to garishness. The Nets’ dark herringbone floor is a perfect example. It’s unique in the NBA, and it looks great without being distracting. Even the corporate logo, usually an annoyance, is rendered in a soft blue that the herringbone almost eats up.

The Nets use the same theater lighting system as their crosstown rivals, and though the effect is noticeable in person, it’s even more dramatic on television. I’m not sure any court looks better on TV.

3. Charlotte Hornets


Yep. A team that hasn’t even existed since 2002 is landing smack in the no. 3 spot. The only bad things about this slick new court are the words “Time Warner,” a reminder of the cable company that took years off my life with crappy service and even crappier customer service in response to that crappy service.

The center-court logo has a clean triangular structure, and the mean hornet looks ready to sting visiting players. The paint is a deep purple-blue that sings without college lane markings, and the teal is obviously a callback to the original Charlotte Hornets. Too much teal can be a bad thing, as the old Hornets learned, and the new Hornets are parceling it out in lighter doses.

And then there is the pièce de résistance, the hexagonal honeycombed pattern of the floor boarding.

That is a freaking masterpiece. The old Hornets experimented with the honeycomb theme, but the edges of each honeycomb were so dark as to overwhelm every other design element. The new ones feature soft boundaries and shading that creates a pattern without screaming.

This is so much better than any of the Creamsicle crap the Bobcats ever tried that it almost makes the old Charlotte franchise look like a minor league outfit. All hail the return of the Buzz.

2. Boston Celtics


It really doesn’t need explanation, though it’s worth considering whether we worship the Boston court as iconic because it’s beautiful, or because the Celtics finagled their way into acquiring Bill Russell and then crafted so many iconic moments on this floor.

Is the parquet look actually pleasant, or do we just think it is because it is a part of every NBA highlight package?

It’s the former, at least for me. The parquet looks nice even without the history, and we can’t penalize Boston just because you could purchase actual pieces of the floor where things like “Havlicek stole the ball!” actually happened. The logo, designed by Red Auerbach’s brother Zang, has stood the test of time; even the Celtics’ new alternate logo is just a white silhouetting of the original.

There isn’t a shade of green like Boston’s in all of U.S. pro sports. It appears to have gotten darker over the years, but the team insists the Celtics are still using the exact shade they featured in 1981 — if not earlier. It is the best color in the NBA.

One mark against the Celtics: They are the only team that uses precious baseline real estate to tout the name of the arena, and not the name of the city or team. That is corporate promotion treading into sacred territory.

1. Los Angeles Lakers


I’m surprised, and not just because I’ve basically terminated my own position in placing the Lakers atop the list. We don’t have the same reverence for the Lakers’ court as for Boston’s, and that’s in part because the Lakers have changed their court several times dating back to the early 1980s.

It was all gold back then, only the gold was really yellow, and the yellow was as bright as the sun. There is a lot of nostalgia for that court, with its blank all-yellow baselines and red markings, but it always struck me as too yellow.

The Lakers kept playing around with the design, especially during the Shaq-Kobe era. They darkened the yellow and moved to “Forum blue” for the boundaries. The landmark change came for the 1999-2000 season, when the Lakers flipped the colors, using blue for the paint, yellow for the sidelines and a weird, crammed white lettering for “Lakers” on the baseline. They played with the shade of blue, but that was the basic structure for several seasons:


They didn’t get it right until two seasons ago, when they debuted the exact look they have today. The blue is beautiful, soft and deep, and the Lakers have let it stand alone by removing almost all the lane markings. The streaking “Lakers” font behind each basket, a very slight variation on the font in the central logo, is miles better than the blocky white characters they had tried to squeeze down there.

The centerpiece has always been perfect — the tasteful L.A. logo, with a star for each of the franchise’s 16 championships. The alternate “L” logo in two corners is a recent addition, and it adds some spice. That “L” is slanted, with yellow racing stripes slashing across its midsection, elements that create the illusion of speed and mirror the main team logo.

The Lakers use the theater lighting system, and the spotlighting, bright Forum gold and general L.A. atmosphere combine to lend Lakers games the unmatched feel of a monumental event.

The red Staples Center insignia is a minor annoyance and blends more easily with the Clippers’ color scheme than it does for L.A.’s traditional powerhouse. But that’s a corporate inconvenience that mars every arena.

You could make arguments for at least a half-dozen court designs, but on this list, the Lakers rule. 

Illustration by Andrew Janik

Filed Under: NBA, NBA Courts, design, Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics, Detroit Pistons, Los Angeles Clippers, Memphis Grizzlies, New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets, Philadelphia 76ers, Chicago Bulls, Atlanta Hawks, Cleveland Cavaliers, San Antonio Spurs, Mascots

Zach Lowe is a staff writer for Grantland.

Archive @ ZachLowe_NBA