Ten-Inch Drop From Rocket Mortgage Court Concerns NBA Players

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During an NBA game last Wednesday, Miami Heat guard Dru Smith suffered a season-ending third degree ACL sprain after his leg slipped off of the floor at Cleveland's Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.

The arena's basketball court features a 10-inch drop to the ice surface that serves the American Hockey League's Cleveland Monsters. It's the only drop of its kind in the NBA, according to Joe Vardon of The Athletic.

The slip can be seen in slow motion at the 0:30 mark in this video:

The arena opened in October 1994, and through more than 1,200 regular-season games and multiple playoff runs, nothing remarkable had resulted from the unique disparity between the court height and the surface below until Wednesday's injury to Smith.

That's not to say that NBA players and coaches haven't taken notice. “Just coming in and out of the huddles is tricky for me,” Los Angeles Lakers coach Darvin Ham said, as reported by The Athletic. “I’ve got big feet, so hopefully I don’t faceplant.”

Ham continued, “It’s something that definitely needs to be looked at. Any time … you have a situation where someone’s getting hurt and the potential to get hurt, and in this particular case it’s the floor, I think they need to take a look at it and see if there are ways things could be better.”

LeBron James, who played in Cleveland for 11 years total during two separate stints with the Cavaliers, said, "Yes, the league should look at it. They should address it." 

However, current Cavaliers coach J.B. Bickerstaff expressed less concern, telling The Athletic, "“I could see how opponents who aren’t used to it could see it as a distraction. Our guys are comfortable playing here. We haven’t had any incidents [among Cleveland players] because of how our floor is built.”

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