Just when we all thought the Oregon Duck design team had maxed out on craziness from the latest Oakland Raider lookalike football uniforms, now comes the new basketball court donned with pine trees and some sort of Stonehenge thing under the “O” at center court.
Now you know me. I’m not the kind that would ever say a critical word about the University of Oregon athletic department or coaches that run up the score with a hurry-up offense late in the fourth quarter.
I rather like all the varied designs of Duck sports paraphernalia, but I nearly had a heart attack when I first saw this floor. Initially it came across as some sort of hideous paint spill destined to ruin the plans of opening night.
But then after watching the video, I started studying the design with new appreciation for what I was seeing.
First of all, the name of the Nike designer, Tinker Hatfield, has what could be one of the all-time coolest names ever labeled to an infant. Kudos to the elder Hatfields for coming up with it (assuming it was them and not some stunning re-branding campaign by Nike?).
Secondly, although it does have that accidental look to it, I kinda like the little treetops there surrounding the floor. All it really needs is an image of a hippie-ish 1976 version of Trail Blazer Bill Walton hugging a stump, and I think you’d have that unshaved Oregon thing completely nailed.
The Stonehenge logo is actually a Japanese culture symbol for a sacred place, according to Todd Van Horne, in his video on the nikeblog.com site. And it's cool that they're honoring Phil Knight's memories with his son, although I don't think most people seeing this new palace will know that when they first eye the center court logo.
Curiously, the same article also admits unashamedly that “Nike and the University of Oregon go together like ham and burger.”
An interesting statement, because I’m not sure I’ve ever enjoyed ham on my burgers. Perhaps this is somewhat of an Oregon staple unadored by the rest of the country?
The Oregon–Nike relationship that the site bragged about is also interesting, because most of us in the Pac-10 see this more in terms of a "George Steinbrenner tinkering with the Yankees thing," than the burger thing.
Nike and Phil Knight are well known for being the best owners in college sports.
The gray seats surrounding the floor are indeed a huge improvement over the previous complex, but once again I am curious what the color gray plays in Oregon’s tradition, other than the tradition of last week's Civil War football game?
Tinker says he wanted to capture the spirit of the 1939 “Tall Firs” National Championship team, and that “if you’re an opposing player you aught to dread coming to play there.”
Well he certainly succeeded there, but I don’t think it’s because of the caliber of basketball play nor the intimidation factor.
Meanwhile Todd Van Horne, in his video, said that they wanted the "Forward-thinking modern lines that is reflected in the Oregon identity."
Pine trees are modern lines? Really?
And I’m noting that even Oregon’s own fans are a bit hesitant over this newest cutting-edge design. Referees may be too, since the minor unimportant things on a basketball floor, like out-of-bounds lines and free-throw lines, look like an afterthought.
But overall, this Husky likes the floor. It is very Oregon. Scattered, capturing the pure environmental message that 75 different uniform combinations send to the rest of the planet.
And weird in an “Animal House” kind of way. Like mushrooms and other recreational forest products that Duck students have long since used at parties.