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A detailed view of the Spalding basketball (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)
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NBA To Say Goodbye To Iconic Spalding Basketball

A detailed view of the Spalding basketball (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The NBA is set to say goodbye to the popular Spalding basketball. Wilson will be the new provider for game balls according to a press release from the company.

Spalding has been the provider of the league’s balls since 1983. The NBA teamed with Wilson before switching to the now iconic Spalding ball. Wilson began making balls for the league in 1946. The NBA was known at the time as the Basketball Association of America.

“The National Basketball Association (NBA) and Wilson Sporting Goods Co. announced a multiyear global partnership today,” the release said. “That will make Wilson the official game ball of the NBA, Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA), NBA G League, NBA 2K League and Basketball Africa League (BAL).”

Preserving The Spalding Basketball Feel

Though the provider is changing, the NBA is working to preserve the familiar Spalding basketball feel. The same leather and product specifications will be used in the new Wilson ball according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.

The NBA faced blowback in 2006 when the league attempted to change the makeup of the ball. The result was a resounding flop.

The microfiber material made the ball feel like plastic to the touch. Instead of the soft leather, the ball made players’ hands crack and bleed. Furthermore, the redesigned ball would become slippery with moisture, a  common issue for NBA players.

The league removed the ball from play in December after several NBA players complained. Commissioner Adam Silver will have to avoid the mistake of his predecessor David Stern when making the switch.

Wilson In Use

Adjusting to the ball shouldn’t be a major stretch for the league’s current players. Wilson has provided basketballs for the NCAA which feeds the league most of its talent. Additionally, Wilson provides the balls for most high school games.

“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,” Kevin Murphy, General Manager of Wilson Basketball said in the release. “Our passion for this game and the league runs incredibly deep, as does our history with it. And, as we start this new chapter in the game, our focus and energy will be on supporting the league and the players, coaches and fans with the most advanced, high-performance game basketballs possible.”

Depending on the league, the will begin use in different years. The NBA, the G-League, and the BAL will begin using the ball in 2021. Meanwhile, 2022 will mark the debut of the ball in the WNBA.