Good Sports: New Caruthers basketball surface is a part of NBA history

CARUTHERS, Calif. (KFSN) -- The last hardwood floor Hall of Famer Charles Barkley played on as a member of the Phoenix Suns now sits in the tiny farming community of Caruthers.

Over the last decade or so, the Fresno County town has built a reputation as a basketball hotbed thanks to its perennial power high school girls program and subsequent travel teams.

But now it's the surface they play on that has opposing teams taking notice.

"You're talking Steve Nash was on that court, Danny Ainge was the coach at the time," says Clovis East boys basketball coach Adrian Wiggins.

Rancher Larry Trigueiro led a team of investors to purchase the very same court once owned and used by the Phoenix Suns.

Trigueiro says they bought it from a youth center in Oregon who got it from the NBA team when they were done using it a number of years ago.

"A floor like this new is about $175k, we didn't get to six figures but it was a high five-figure count. Part of it is the events we put on are going to help pay for it. We had a group of generous people who donated a lot more than just me, a lot of people have a part in this and working their butts off to make it happen. Ultimately our kids and our community are going to benefit from it all," Trigueiro says.

But before the floor could be purchased, Trigueiro, who also coaches one of Caruthers' elite AAU teams, needed an indoor facility large enough to house the 94 feet of court.

He found it inside the commercial building at the fairgrounds.

"People are amazed that the kids get to play on an NBA floor, it's got first-class baskets, shot clocks, got digital clocks here, we have a PA system the fairgrounds let us use, we got music piped in and it's kind of got an old school feel and so it's been very positive," Trigueiro says.

Surrounded by American flags, the cozy confines inside the barn-like building only adds to the nostalgia of this unique basketball setting now used by the high school and area youth teams.

"You worry about if the ceiling will be high enough, is it going to be safe, are they going to have some issue where the walls are too close. They didn't, it was spaced out perfectly. The fans could see, they weren't too close, the benches were fine, the floor was kept in great shape. Honestly it's great idea," says Clovis East coach Wiggins.

From hotly contested NBA games to then 12th ranked Fresno State's showdown vs Arkansas in '97, this court has hosted its share of great players. Now the next generation of talent is using it to foster their own success.

"There's a lot of history on this floor so we want to keep some of that and the fact that our college down the street played on it, so NBA legends played on it. I think it was NBA Finals court at one time, there's a lot of cool stuff here."

Right now the court is used for practice and exhibition games but the goal is to begin hosting tournaments and there's even talk to build an outdoor streetball surface adjacent to the pavilion.
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