The NBA has changed significantly over the years — with more athletic players playing professional basketball and an emphasis on speed, skill and court spacing overtaking the relentless drive to pound the key — and now the official game ball is following suit. After more than 30 years of partnering with Spalding, the league’s official game balls will be provided by Wilson, according to Yahoo! Sports.
The report indicates that he NBA’s current contract with Spalding is about to expire and the league will be taking things in a new direction with its new game ball partner beginning with the 2021-22 season. Yahoo! cited sources with knowledge of the deal and also claimed that the NBA and Spalding mutually agreed to a parting of ways.
Per Yahoo!, Wilson will reportedly provide the official game balls for the WNBA, the G-League, the NBA 2K League and the Basketball Africa League (BAL) as well. In addition to the new agreement with the NBA, the company already provides the official game ball of the NCAA tournament and is also a mainstay at the prep level.
Although the change from one orange, leather ball to another may not make an impact on some new or casual NBA fans, it’s the end of an era for the league. Spalding had produced the league’s official game ball since 1983. Wilson had been the NBA’s game ball partner before making the switch to Spalding in the ’80s.
While the NBA’s new ball will retain the same leather and product specifications as the Spalding game ball, the NBA and the NBPA are creating a player advisory board to offer Wilson suggestions and insight, according to Yahoo!. Meanwhile, the WNBA will continue to use a composite ball.
The NBA toyed with the idea of using a synthetic/composite ball previously, but the experiment was not well-received by players. In 2006, the NBA announced that Spalding would produce a composite ball for use in competition, but the league reverted to the old, leather ball early in the 2006-07 season.
Although a new official game ball is in place for next season, major questions abound with regards to the current season, specifically as relates to when/if games will be played again. The NBA made the move to suspend play in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic in March and may or may not conclude the 2019-20 season. As reported by The Inquisitr, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has invited the league to resume play in his state.