MILWAUKEE — NBA officials canceled Friday night’s preseason game between the Milwaukee Bucks and Toronto Raptors due to an unplayable floor at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.
The Bucks were leading 14-9 with 5:58 to play in the first quarter when officials Danny Crawford, Sean Corbin and Karl Lane paused the game after multiple players had slipped and fallen on the court.
Both teams left the floor while the officials consulted with representatives from the Bucks and Raptors. After a delay of roughly 20 minutes, Bucks television analyst Jon McGlocklin took the microphone and told the crowd the game had been cancelled.
“We (the officials) concluded that the floor was just unplayable,” Crawford said. “We went out beforehand, because it’s under the control of the Bucks to make a decision initially. We went out initially and tested the floor, and we thought floor was OK.
“Once the players started slipping, we said we should end this just to make sure we have no issues later.”
Bucks executive vice president of business operations John Steinmiller said the organization has yet to determine the cause of the problem. He did say the Bucks have a 48-hour window to “identify the situation and correct it or (determine) if we have to take other steps.”
Steinmiller was adamant in saying the home opener on Nov. 2 against Toronto will be played, saying “We’re not going to miss our home opener. We never have in 45 years.”
“We’re going to use the resources we have, we’re going to depend on the league to help us,” Steinmiller said. “We’re going to make sure we have a short-term and a long-term solution.”
Milwaukee could use its old floor, according to Steinmiller. The Bucks still have the court nearby and might be able to install it in time for the home opener if the NBA permits its use.
Crawford said the issue with the floor had nothing to do with the ice that sits underneath the Bradley Center court. Marquette University had its game against Ohio State on an aircraft carrier called last November due to condensation on the floor, but that wasn’t the case Friday night.
“There was no condensation at all,” Crawford said. “We kept making eye contact out there and we saw the players having issues with traction. Then when we had a few guys go down, we figured we should have a conference. Both teams wanted not to continue the game.”
Fans initially booed the announcement but quickly cheered when McGlocklin informed them the Bucks will allow them to use tickets from tonight’s game for free admission to any November home game. The Bucks play eight home games in the month, including five on Saturday nights. Fans were also allowed onto the floor to shoot free throws after the cancellation.
Milwaukee’s O.J. Mayo and John Henson both slipped early in the game, while Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan and Amir Johnson both fell trying to defend a cut made by Mayo.
“It was really bad,” DeRozan said. “I couldn’t cut to get open. It wasn’t the grip, it was just giving way when you try to cut. I was really scared. Amir Johnson and I fell on one play, and I tried to get up and I fell again.”
That play was when Mayo realized how bad the situation was.
“(DeRozan) asked me after he went down the first time he went down and I tried to have a tough mentality and said ‘Nah, man. It’s good to go,’ ” Mayo said. “I then did a jab and two guys fell. I said ‘I know I’m not moving that quick. I’m not moving that good.’
“I thought Mr. Crawford did what was best for both ball clubs. Obviously, we wanted to play. Our focus and energy was definitely up and it’s kind of hard to bring it back down, but at the end of the day I thought it was the best decision for both ball clubs.”
The Bucks unveiled their new Robert Indiana-inspired floor at an event at the Milwaukee Art Museum in late September. None of the players or coaches reported any problems after an open practice on Oct. 5 and an exhibition game against Charlotte on Oct. 12.
“It felt great,” Mayo said of the court conditions earlier in the preseason. “We were stoked on how the new floor looked. It looked awesome. It doesn’t have the shiny gloss, it has the matte look. I think we have one of the best-looking floors in the NBA.”
Bucks coach Larry Drew is confident the organization will figure out what went wrong and have the floor safe in eight days.
“I think it’s an isolated incident,” Drew said. “Whatever the issue was, I’m sure they will take care of it.”