City fixes slippery ‘Space Jam’ basketball court in Williamsburg

City fixes slippery ‘Space Jam’ basketball court in Williamsburg
Photo by Kevin Duggan

They a-tuned for their mistakes.

The city reopened a Williamsburg basketball on Aug. 23 after repairing a slippery Looney Tunes-inspired paint job that had made it unsafe to play.

Workers for the city’s Parks Department added a layer of clear paint mixed with silica sand after local ballers complained that a paint job by cartoon studio Warner Bros. created a slipping hazard that made it unplayable.

Park workers also widened the court by about four feet on both sides, repainted its lines, and replaced its backboards to address other unwanted changes that locals griped about.

One local was as overjoyed to see the Rodney Street court back in action and as he was surprised at the city’s quick reaction to the looney face lift, which this paper was first to report on Aug. 15.

“I’m super impressed, I didn’t think we would get as quick a response,” said Williamsburg resident Paul Travisano. “I’m really happy they decided to address both at the same time.”

This reporter confirmed the court was no longer slippery as of Monday morning, when I conducted a very scientific slip test — running, jumping, and then attempting to slide — which demonstrated a satisfactory amount of friction.

Warner Bros. partnered with the city to renovate the blacktop between S. Fourth and S. Fifth streets to promote an upcoming sequel to the classic 1996 animated sports comedy “Space Jam” with the on-court mural featuring larger-than-life images of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Tweety Bird, Sylvester, Lola Bunny, and Taz, on Aug. 1.

But the cartoon characters proved too slippery to play on, and the makeover also changed the court’s three-point line to professional standards, which Travisano and several upset ballers who vented their frustration on the social media complained was not appropriate for a community basketball court.

One of the two artists commissioned by the West Coast company quickly took to social media to distance herself from the debacle, saying the city added a slippery finish and the false lines after they finished their mural.

“The paint used was court-approved paint by NYC Parks and Rec on our end (the actual cartoon). WE DID NOT PAINT LINES OR TOP COAT,” Dee Rosse said on Instagram. “Parks and Recs is fully responsible for the top coat used — we had absolutely no hand in that!”

The makeover was part of a Parks program called Creative Courts, which entitles organizations to paint a mural on “dated” sports courts for up to a year, according to the department’s website.

But after the botched job, the city closed off the court on Aug. 15 and started working on painting the extensions that same day, a social media of a local basketball club shows.

They also swapped out the backboards which had the faces of Looney Tunes characters on them with clear boards, which shows that the people in charge of the repairs knew that would be less distracting for players, according to Travisano.

“It seemed like someone who knew basketball went to the course and said, ‘Wait a minute, that’s very distracting,’” he said.

Travisano was happy to have the court just a couple blocks from his apartment and said that other Brooklynites were already eager to shoot some hoops again when he played a game with some friends Saturday morning.

“It’s actually great,” he said. “It’s my neighborhood court. I’m happy to have it.”

Reach reporter Kevin Duggan at (718) 260–2511 or by e-mail at kduggan@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @kduggan16.
Before: Locals complained that the Rodney Park North basketball court was unplayable after a makeover by Warner Bros., which made the surface too slippery and had the wrong three-point line as seen on this shot from Aug. 14.
Photo by Kevin Duggan