Thursday, March 15, 2012 • 11:00 AM Comments ()

Blinded By The Hardwood of Oregon's Matthew Knight Arena

posted by Pete Redington

Sometimes, as the Grateful Dead observed, "You get shown the light / in the strangest of places / if you look at it right." But oftentimes, you don't.

I was flipping through the channels the other night, after thorougly enjoying seeing our local Minutemen defeat Mississippi State in an exciting double overtime first-round N.I.T. battle, when I inadvertenly came across an Oregon-LSU game televised from the Matthew Knight Arena in Eugene, Oregon. I immediately recoiled in horror, barely struggling to mumble the words, "Oh. My. God..."

For those who have, as had I until that fateful night earlier this week, managed to remain comforably ignorant of the athletically artistic affront currenlty on display in Duck Nation, I offer the video below. Watch at your own risk.

Created by current Nike designer (Nike's Phil Knight has benefacted his alma matter to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars) and former U of Oregon track star Tinker Hatfield, the hardwood (at least, I think it's still wood) features the inverted imprints of tall douglas firs outlining the court, as well as the slogan, "Deep in the woods."

And as some have speculated, Oregon's court might be the first of many mind-bending, retina-exploding artistic expressions of homecourt hardwood. (One can only imagine what Stony Brook University, in New York, would come up with. "Stony Brook," as Mike Henderson notes, "is affiliated with a foundation tied to the life and work of the abstract expressionist Jackson Pollock." But we'll stay lost in Oregon's woods for now.)

"The trees," continues Henderson, "are a reference to the Oregon “Tall Firs” contingent that won the national college-basketball championship in 1939."

I'm all for historical appreciation, and for celebrating unique regional character as well. But this court makes me glad I'm colorblind. It's just too much, especially when I'm so accustomed to the parquet floors of the Boston Garden, and the Mullins Center.

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