The Magic couldn’t hold a shootaround practice because of the wet conditions Friday morning, prompting Van Gundy and guard Vince Carter to question the safety of the court that was installed over an NHL ice surface.
The Heat say the NBA has not formally canceled the game yet.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) _ A slippery court installed over an NHL ice surface severely hampered the Orlando Magic at their shootaround practice before facing the Miami Heat on Friday, prompting Magic coach Stan Van Gundy and guard Vince Carter to question its safety.
Arena workers were confident the problems could be solved by game time.
“The court’s not playable in the condition it’s in right now,” Van Gundy said Friday morning, before the scheduled 7:30 p.m. tip-off. “We’re not going to put people out there to get hurt.”
Instead of practicing, the Magic walked _ literally _ through some sets and did little else during their pre-game workout. The Heat did not have a shootaround scheduled at the home of the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning, instead having an early afternoon walkthrough at their hotel.
“We’ll sometimes do that in hotel ballrooms, which is what I would have done had I known,” Van Gundy said. “I mean, we would have just stayed in the hotel because we literally could not do anything. They had the hockey game last night, the condensation on the floor. It’s awful.”
The Tampa Bay Lightning played in the arena Thursday night, and work was performed overnight to cover the ice surface and install the basketball court. When the Magic arrived to practice Friday morning, the court was still wet and slippery _ though it was unclear if the moisture was from the ice below or the process of cleaning the court _ and the NBA 3-point lines hadn’t been installed.
Workers were on the floor with mops and brooms, and fans were brought in to help circulate air and speed up the drying process.
“It’s like playing on ice right now, literally,” Carter said, watching from the side as a few Magic players did some shooting. After the Magic left, workers returned to the court with mops, both for cleaning and working on slippery areas.
With the regular season starting next week, Carter thought conditions were particularly risky.
“More than anything, the season’s right around the corner,” Carter said. “Do you risk that for whatever reason because the floor’s slightly slippery? I don’t think so.”
Carter and LeBron James have seen this before. A game between their old clubs, the Toronto Raptors and Cleveland Cavaliers, was canceled in October 2003 _ part of James’ rookie preseason tour _ after condensation formed on the court in St. John’s, Newfoundland.
The arena in St. John’s, though much smaller than the one in Tampa, used a similar setup, installing the court over hockey ice. The Tampa arena has hosted basketball several times before, including NCAA men’s tournament games and a women’s Final Four in 2008.