The NBA made a change from Spalding to Wilson basketballs prior to the start of the season, and the switch has some players acting like anti-Tom Hanks, treating the Wilson balls like castaways.
A slew of NBA players have blamed the brand change for their early-season shooting woes, leaving Nuggets coach Mike Malone on an island by himself to defend the new rubber.
“It’s a round ball,” Malone said via the Denver Posts Mike Singer.
Malone says he doesn’t buy theory that new ball is affecting the shooting.
“It’s a round ball.”
— Mike Singer (@msinger) November 21, 2021
While the Wilson ball is, indeed, “a round ball,” it also presents a different feel. The grooves in the ball are slightly longer, allowing for a more firm grip. So it’s not a stretch to suggest that it might feel foreign to some players.
“Not to make an excuse or anything, it’s just a different basketball,” Clippers forward Paul George told SI.com. “It doesn’t have the same touch or softness as the Spalding ball had. You’ll see this year, there’s going to be a lot of bad misses.”
Blazers guard CJ McCollum seemed to echo George’s thoughts saying, “We’re all still adjusting to (the new ball),” per Real GM.
In the history of the NBA, only two brands have ever supplied the league with basketballs. Wilson was actually the first company to give the league its balls and did so until 1983, when the NBA switched to Spalding. Now, it’s back to Wilson again.
“Wilson is highly regarded in the basketball world,” NBA President of global partnerships, Sal LaRocca told Yahoo Sports in September. “In the first 74 NBA seasons, Wilson had the first 37 and Spalding had the next 37. So, our running joke is these partnerships may change every 37 years.”
Players would be wise to adjust to the new ball because it’ll likely be another three decades or so before the NBA sends Wilson out to sea. We’re sorry, Wilson.
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