Court goes in tank: Sixers game postponed

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Crews try to mop up moisture on the basketball court of the Wells Fargo Center before the Sixers-Kings game was postponed.

The Wells Fargo Center court tanked on the 76ers Wednesday night.

Forget the slogan “Trust the Process.” Fans hoping to a see the game were trying to “Trust the Mop’s Success.” But their wish didn’t come true. The Sixers’ game with the Sacramento Kings was first delayed and finally canceled by the NBA at 8:03 p.m. because of unsafe playing conditions on the arena floor. That was an hour and three minutes after it was scheduled to start.

There was moisture on the court from the rink beneath the playing surface. The temperature inside the arena was higher than what it normally is for a basketball game. A source said that it was 75 degrees in the arena. That combined with the temperature in the 60s outside with 100 percent humidity and rain led the condensation on the court.

A Wells Fargo source said someone in operations dropped the ball and did not turn down the temperature in the arena.

“It’s an extremely unfortunate situation,” Wells Fargo Center president John Page said. “We’re not exactly sure what caused the situation. Was it condensation? Was it preliminary activity during the day? Those are all things we’re going to investigate so it doesn’t happen again.

“With our ice surface, sometimes humidity is our biggest opponent. You look at how we prepare for a game.”

There was a youth basketball game on the court at noon. The Sacramento Kings said they noticed there was a problem with the court during their 10 a.m. shootaround. Sixers CEO Scott O’Neil said he became aware of the situation at about 4 p.m. Page said the Wells Fargo staff found out at 6 p.m.

“As soon as we heard, we were down here assessing what could cause any slippage and started working on it at that moment,” he said. “There’s a lot of mitigating circumstances that could cause that. We need to really go back and assess what could cause this.”

This is the first time that a game has been postponed because of an unplayable surface at the arena. A makeup date had not been determined. The Kings (7-11) have a seven-game Eastern Conference trip from Jan. 20-31. However, Sacramento would have to play eight games in 12 days if it adds the Sixers (4-14) during that trip.

“They also mentioned they don’t want to make that an eight-game swing,” O’Neil said.

Said Kings general manager Vlade Divac:  "It won't be beneficial for us at all. it happened once before, when the New York game was postponed because of the weather. (Knicks Jan. 26, 2015) the schedule, now -- I don't know how it's going to work. And if we were based on the east, it would be easier."

The Sixers will honor tickets from Wednesday when the game is rescheduled. They also will offer Wednesday’s fans tickets to another game. In addition, the fans may be allowed to use Wednesday’s parking receipts to get into the parking lot.

“I know this is a tremendous inconvenience to the fans,” O’Neil said. “We certainty apologize in behalf of the organization.”

The playing surface was unsafe during the pregame warm-ups.

“The floor was way too slippery,” Kings forward DeMarcus Cousins said. “I’ve never seen the floor with conditions like that before.”

Cousins added that the Kings were disappointed with the situation. Players go through their pregame rituals only to learn that they aren’t playing in a game.

“It is kind of crazy, too,” he said. “It is crazy. I never experienced anything like that.”

After the shootaround, arena employees attempted to wipe down the surface with towels and mops. After that didn’t work, they tried to wet-mop the floor. Cousins joined in.

“I was serious. I was trying to play,” he said. “This is a different situation. I’m kind of glad it did go this way. The player safety should be considered first. I’m glad that’s the route they took.

With no game to be played, the 6-foot-11, 270-pounder joked that he was going to go to Geno’s.

But he wasn’t the only player who thought the league ultimately made the right decision.

“Playing on a slick floor, that’s a risk that’s waiting to happen,” Sixers small forward Robert Covington said. “They weren’t willing to put our careers in jeopardy. The good thing about it, they tried their hardest to get everything taken care of but it just kept getting moist. They did what they were supposed to and they made the best decision.”

However, this was an embarrassment for the organization and the arena. This is something they are determined to not duplicate.

"It’s a black mark and we take great pride in what we do," Page said. "We perform flawlessly all the time in what we do and look at the quick changes in how we execute. So we will make sure this doesn’t happen again."