12 Most Intimidating Home Courts in the NBA

Jesse DorseyFeatured ColumnistApril 3, 2012

12 Most Intimidating Home Courts in the NBA

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    The NBA is the greatest sport in the country when it comes to making fans a part of the game. There is no other sport out there where 20,000 people are crammed into a building where sounds reverberate off walls and rain down upon the players on the court as they try their hardest to concentrate on putting a ball in a hoop.

    On average it takes about 45 decibels to wake a person up; 50 decibels is that of a normal conversation and 110 decibels is like standing next to a train as it hurtles by.

    Take that and add another 20 decibels, and you've got the loudest noise level ever recorded in the NBA; ARCO Arena registered 130 decibels during the Kings' heyday. To put that in perspective, a sound is loud enough to start to do damage to a person's hearing at 90 decibels.

    Think about that and tell me that a crowd can't change a game.

    But which team has the most intimidating court in the league, and which ones are teams dreading every time they touch down in that particular NBA city?

ARCO Arena and the Sacramento Kings

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    Oh, I'm sorry—did they change the name of this place to the Power Balance Pavilion? Yeah, like I'm ever going to stop calling it ARCO, so long as it's the same building.

    Even a decade after the heyday of ARCO Arena it's impossible for me to forget the amount of noise that can come from this arena combined with the excited people there in Sacramento.

    ARCO is the second-smallest arena in the league, just creates an echo chamber. This leads to some of the loudest games you'll ever see when the place is really rocking.

    Sure, it hasn't been top-notch in about six years, but the mere fact that it's been as loud as it has been is good enough reason to keep it on the list.

Staples Center and the Los Angeles Lakers

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    Sometimes...wait, what am I saying? Most of the time the crowd in the Staples Center for the Lakers' home games isn't too loud. This is one case where the arena puts forth more of an intimidation factor than the team.

    When the lights go down and the ball gets thrown up, it's just two basketball teams going playing against each other. When the other team is one with as much history as the Lakers, it's going to be at least a bit intimidating.

The AT&T Center and the San Antonio Spurs

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    The AT&T Center always seems like a fine arena but never anything too deafening, mostly because it's been the same for the past 15 years.

    The court that the Spurs call home is always full, and it has been ever since the David Robinson days. This makes it easy to forget what it could be like half-empty.

    Beyond that, the AT&T Center has another leg up on the competition every year around midseason. When the rodeo comes to town, everybody talks about the Spurs' long road trip, but there's something that most people tend to ignore: the smell.

    When the Spurs come back into town after the rodeo, no amount of scrubbing or cleaning can get rid of the smell of, well, bull crap. It seems that it lingers for a few weeks, so the Spurs players get used to it but every visiting team complains about it.

    It may not be a huge advantage, but it's an advantage nonetheless.

The Q and the Cleveland Cavaliers

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    If there is one thing I can honestly say about the fans in Cleveland, it's that they can hold one hell of a grudge.

    You don't need to ask LeBron James—he's just on the second year of his grudge. Don't ask Joakim Noah, who they've hated since his comments about the town he made two years ago. Nor should you ask Carlos Boozer—he gets booed every time he comes into the arena since he left for Utah back in 2004. 

    The guy who really draws the ire from the Cleveland sports fan is Art Modell, a guy who should be a little leery every time he even nears a town on Lake Erie.

    This is what you'll encounter in the stands of the Q: either the angry, petulant Cleveland sports fans, or the blue-collar guys who come into the game to drink a $9 beer and scream for their team. 

Madison Square Garden and the New York Knicks

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    This is another case in which the arena itself is the more intimidating factor than the fans that fill it.

    Madison Square Garden has been called the Mecca of Basketball for years even though the Knicks haven't actually won a conference title since 1999 or an NBA Championship since 1973. 

    What makes this arena so intimidating is the fact that it's in the most visible city in the world, plus it is slightly raised as if it were a stage on which a beautiful basketball ballet is performed 41 nights a year.

    However, more so than the Lakers crowd, the people in New York throw themselves into games, screaming, yelling and getting as nasty as any other angry crowd out there.

American Airlines Center and the Dallas Mavericks

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    There's no doubt that it's a bit intimidating to come into the arena of the defending champions.

    On top of that, there are fans who pack this arena every night. Thanks to Mark Cuban, the American Airlines Center is primed for fan involvement in the game.

    Cuban is trying his best to give fans the amenities that they're used to during a game, but he's keeping it from overpowering the game in a way that things like wireless Internet become a distraction.

    With commitment like that from the owner to have one of the best arenas in the league in terms of fan involvement, you know the American Airlines Center is going to have some loud nights.

Energy Solutions Arena and the Utah Jazz

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    Over and over again you'll hear the same thing: The fans of the Utah Jazz are the meanest, most vulgar in the NBA. Seems to go against all logic, doesn't it?

    Jazz fans are the ones that jeered Derek Fisher for leaving their team in order to get better medical care for his daughter, something that sits atop the list for worst reasons to boo another player.

    On top of that, Utah was voted to have the most intimidating arena in the NBA by the players back in 2008. 

    The team has slid a bit since then, but the fans are still raucous and as mean as ever.

TD Garden and the Boston Celtics

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    There's history, passionate fans and a bunch of drunk dudes—what could be more intimidating?

    From the first look at the court, you have to feel that you're coming out to be a part of something unique; the criss-crossed design in the floorboards is completely different from any other arena in the league.

    On top of that, when the Celtics are playing one of those teams that the people of Boston hate (you know—just anyone in their division, the Heat, Lakers, Bulls, Pistons or anyone that has beaten their team in the past year), the fans get downright nasty.

The Chesapeake Energy Arena and the Oklahoma City Thunder

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    The Chesapeake Energy Arena is the perfect example of what a fan-friendly arena looks like in today's NBA.

    For years, the trend was creating these massive 20,000-seat mega-arenas in order to squeeze every last dollar out of the pockets of the fans. That led to an endless number of bad seats and a feeling of non-intimacy when you go to a game.

    The Chesapeake is now the smallest arena in the NBA. It just so happens to be one of the loudest, recording a mark of 109 decibels at one point in 2010.

The United Center and the Chicago Bulls

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    When Chicago is a good team, the United Center just explodes with noise. There are north of 20,000 people who cram themselves into that building; every single one of them is screaming—even the people throwing down a grand for floor seats at a playoff game.

    There are just so many basketball fans in Chicago who really come out of their shells when they get into the arena.

    When you get a game where Miami or Oklahoma City comes into the United Center, you'll hear thousands of people screaming for the Bulls to return them to the glory days of Michael Jordan—and they've nearly broke through to have that shot.

The Rose Garden and the Portland Trail Blazers

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    There are no fans in the NBA more passionate about their team than the ones who frequent the Rose Garden. They are a smart bunch and they realize what a fanbase can do for a good team that is on the brink of becoming a great team.

    Real Trail Blazers fans are completely and wholeheartedly dedicated to their team. They know everything that's going on and they definitely have their opinion on the best way for their team to win games.

    With everything that's happened to the Blazers over the past few years, mostly in terms of injuries, it's amazing that there's anyone still around to see the remnants of what could have been a championship-caliber team.

Oracle Arena and the Golden State Warriors

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    There are certain periods of time in the NBA when you can remember games just because the crowd is so insane that it creates a permanent indentation on your mind.

    The five crowds that really stick out in my days as a young basketball fan are the crowds in both Utah and Chicago in the 1997 and 1998 finals, the 2000 Portland Trail Blazers, the 2002 Sacramento Kings crowd and the 2007 Golden State Warriors backers.

    Oracle Arena was so rocking in those days that it resonated for years, making it cool to come to Oakland and scream at the opposing team.

    If you don't think The Oracle is an intimidating place, just ask Joe Lacob after he was showered in boos for his unpopular trade of Monta Ellis.


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