The NBA league office was forced to call off the preseason finale due to slippery court conditions. Apparently an oil-based cleaning solution was used and officials were unable to restore a safe surface in time for tip-off.
This was very disappointing news for players, fans and the league alike. The nearly sold-out game was scheduled to be televised on ESPN and would have given fans from a non-NBA city a rare opportunity to experience the game in person.
To make matters worse, a Heat player was reportedly almost struck by an object launched by an angry fan from the upper deck while the cancellation announcement was being made. Both the dangerous court conditions and the spectator’s careless action could have cost a player his career.
Though unusual, I encountered similar situations more than one time during my coaching career. As many arenas offer multipurpose facilities, a couple games were cancelled due to the fact that the wooden court was laid out on top of an ice rink and because they didn’t lower the temperature enough in the building, it caused condensation to build up on the floor and guys were sliding all over the place. I’ve also experienced the other case wherein the wrong treatment was used on the floor, rendering the court unplayable.
Regardless of the cause, the fact remains that players risk sustaining very serious injuries if they play under such conditions, and so it is absolutely necessary to error on the side of caution. It’s simply not worth jeopardizing a player’s career and a team’s season to do otherwise.
I understand how upsetting the cancellation was for fans of all ages who shelled out money for tickets, scheduled their evenings around the game and in a number of cases traveled great distances to be there. Not to mention this may have been the only shot for some to see the likes of LeBron, Wade and Howard play under one roof. But under no circumstances should anyone throw anything down onto the court. And it is especially nonsensical to direct one’s anger and aggression towards the players in a situation that boils down to an untimely accident that is completely beyond their control.
Fortunately nobody was harmed, and we do not have to wait long for a rematch as the Heat will host the Magic on Friday, October 29th.