Lowe: Inside the incredible new Washington Wizards alternate court (cherry blossoms!)

    Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) is a senior writer for ESPN Digital and Print.

As the Washington Wizards and Nike were collaborating two-plus years ago on a cherry blossom-themed pink City Edition jersey, the Wizards’ brain trust decided to think bigger: What if we had a matching court? What if the court were … pink?

Teams were still reeling from the pandemic, when many had slashed budgets and furloughed employees. An extra $150,000 or so for an alternate court the Wizards might use 10 times a season was a tough sell — especially for a franchise that had never used more than one home-court floor in any season until unveiling its throwback bearded-wizard court last month.

But the Wizards’ experience with last year’s City Edition uniforms — a blue- and red-striped take on their standard jersey — reinforced the need to expand the blossom look into a full-on franchise iconography takeover. They had no matching court last season. The jerseys alone did not have quite the “wow” impact the franchise had anticipated.

“If you looked at [last year’s City Edition] next to the court, there was a disconnect,” says Hunter Lochmann, the chief marketing officer for Monumental Sports & Entertainment, parent company of the Wizards, the Washington Capitals of the NHL, and the WNBA’s Washington Mystics. “You saw it and felt it.”

That meant going all-in on a pink court. After dozens of tweaks and proposals — some wild, some more muted — the Wizards landed here, as first revealed exclusively today at ESPN.

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