NBA to play on an LED glass court for some All-Star events

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INDIANAPOLIS (WXIN) – For the first time, the NBA will play on glass.

On Monday, the NBA unveiled a video of a high-tech basketball court that will be used during the 2024 NBA All-Star Weekend.

That means the skills competition, the 3-point contest, the slam dunk competition and the shooting matchup between Stephen Curry and Sabrina Ionescu will take place on the glass floor on Feb. 17, as will the celebrity game on Feb. 16.

The actual All-Star Game itself on Feb. 18 will remain on a wooden court.

Nexstar’s WXIN got a look at the German-made court as crews tested it at a warehouse in Indianapolis Monday afternoon. The company behind it, ASB GlassFloor, describes the flashy glass court as a spectacle for sports fans.

“I think it will be a first for most of the people that see it,” said ASB GlassFloor owner Christof Babinsky. “I’m very interested to see the feedback in it. I think we’ll get a lot of people excited about it.”

Babinsky said he understands some may prefer the traditional wooden basketball court, but he looks forward to allowing fans the chance to see the game in a new light.

“The people on the floor are the best people in the world at what they do,” he said. “What we want to do is aid the visibility and performance of the athlete. So, making that more visible and showing the real skills involved.”

The court can display various animations and designs. It can also track the movements of those on the court and showcase those movements with different artwork.

“It gives us a little bit more range in what we can do as far as interactive graphics, reactionary graphics that happen on the floor, changing the floor design, changing the colors, really reacting to the play that happens on the court,” said Carlton Myers, an NBA senior vice president overseeing live production and entertainment. “So, we feel really, really good about the capabilities of what this gives us, what this provides us. And we think it’s going to be really impactful, both in the building and watching on television.

Babinsky said players will not need to wear tracking gear on their jerseys. Instead, he said all of the animations and movements on the court will be done behind the scenes.

“In general, it’s still a very similar concept to what was used 200 years ago,” Babinsky said. “Nobody thinks glass is a suitable product for a sports floor, but it turns out from a health and safety perspective for an athlete, it’s potentially the better product.”

The court itself is actually two layers of laminated safety glass, each five millimeters thick, the NBA said. The surface is opaque, and all the designs will be provided by the LED panels. Courts will have a different look for each event — and part of what’ll be displayed are real-time game stats, replays, video content and even player tracking animations.

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“It’s a high-performance sports surface,” Babinsky said. “So the floor is actually elastic. It (has) more give than a regular wooden floor and the grip on the floor is delivered in a different and revolutionary way.”

Babinsky said it’s designed to also help reduce injuries.

The court has been used in events by FIBA, the sport’s governing body. FIBA approved usage of LED glass flooring at top-tier competitions in 2022. The league didn’t reveal what the court costs, other than it’s more expensive than a wood surface.

The NBA has been considering ways to use the product for some time. Andre Iguodala of the National Basketball Players Association and Joe Dumars, the NBA’s executive vice president for basketball operations, experimented on the court last week to check how it plays and whether it’s safe.

The surface plays almost exactly the same way wood does, in terms of bounce and feel.

“What does it feel like? Does it have traction? Does it have give? Those were the questions that came to mind right away when you hear about this court,” Dumars said. “And they were answered to our satisfaction.”

The NBA experimented with court design changes earlier this season, when it used different-looking surfaces for the In-Season Tournament. Those courts were still the traditional wood, just with a different paint scheme.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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