NBA

NBA Basketballs Could Look a Little Different Soon

NBA basketballs will look a bit different soon. The NBA has tried to make changes to its game ball in the past with mixed results. Hoping for a better outcome, the NBA will change from longtime official NBA basketball supplier, Spalding, to Wilson for all of its official game balls.

The NBA could be in for an interesting season. For now, we’re left with nothing but questions. How will the new ball affect play, what will it look like, and what do the players think? Find out more below. 

Spalding’s history making NBA basketballs

Official Spalding game basketball
An official Spalding game basketball on the NBA court | Jason Miller/Getty Images

The NBA’s longtime partner and official game ball supplier, Spalding, is leaving after over 30 years with the league, reports The Spun. They’ve been supplying the game balls since 1982 and the brand has become synonymous with basketball since then. 

Spalding’s only black mark came in 2006 when the NBA moved from leather to composite materials for the game ball. The company called the advanced new ball “Cross Traxxion.” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver called it “the best basketball in the world,” but NBA players thought otherwise. 

The athletes complained of the balls cutting their hands, leaving splits on their fingertips, and getting slippery. So, the NBA moved back to leather and has used it ever since.

Why NBA basketballs are changing

Why the change after so much history with Spalding? The NBA and Spalding are going no farther than calling it a “mutual” decision, reports Yahoo Sports.

This isn’t the first time the NBA and Wilson teamed up for a game ball, there is actually a lot of history between the NBA and Wilson. Wilson was the original basketball provider of the NBA and made the first official NBA basketball ever in 1946, when the league was formed, and continued for 37 years before being replaced by Spalding.

The NBA and Wilson’s partnership is built on the idea of growing the game globally, according to Wilson’s GM Kevin Murphy. “Our commitment to growing the game of basketball on the global stage is at the heart of Wilson and our new partnership with the NBA.”

This move will truly unite the basketball world across the globe as Wilson will also become the ball supplier of the WNBA, G-League, NBA 2K-League, and Basketball Africa League (BAL).

Wilson, the future of NBA basketballs

The future NBA basketball will look a lot like the balls of the past for many players. With Wilson being the NCAA’s official supplier, many players already have years of experience playing with Wilson balls. (The NBA basketball will still be genuine leather rather than the composite material used in high school and college.)

Wilson will officially take over. It will provide the new balls for the NBA during the league’s 75th anniversary season starting in 2021. They’ll also contribute the balls for the G-League, 2K League, and BAL. Wilson will wait until 2022 for the WNBA, which uses different ball specifications.

What will the new ball look like?

If you’re worried about a repeat of the composite ball disaster, don’t fret. The NBA has assured fans and players that the new ball will work. It follows the established regulations for leather and product specifications, like having eight panels and the same materials. 

To avoid past mistakes and controversies, the NBA Player’s Association will be directly involved in its production. The NBA announced that the league, its players, and Wilson will work jointly during the development process of the ball.

Though it shouldn’t affect play, changing something as fundamental as the game ball is always concerning for fans and players alike. Only time will tell if the NBA learned its lesson from the mishaps of the past.