After 37 years of being the official game ball of the NBA, Spalding will mutually part ways with the league. Official league ball responsibilities are being handed back over to Wilson (cue Tom Hanks yell).
On Wednesday, the NBA announced a change, but it won’t be the change we were necessarily expecting. Starting in the 2021-22 season, Wilson will take over as the league’s official ball manufacturer. The new ball will be made with the exact specifications of the current one, the league revealed in its press release.
“The National Basketball Association (NBA) and Wilson Sporting Goods Co. announced a multiyear global partnership today 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).”
The NBA Wilson game ball will be showcased once again during the league’s 75th anniversary season in 2021-22. The other debuts will be during the 2022 WNBA season, 2021-22 NBA G League season, 2021 NBA 2K League season and the inaugural BAL season.
“This partnership with Wilson returns us to our roots as we plan for the future,” said Salvatore LaRocca, NBA President, Global Partnerships. “We were partners for 37 seasons dating back to when Wilson manufactured the first official NBA basketballs in 1946, and we look forward to growing the game of basketball together.”
This could raise some skepticism for current players that are used to the feel of the current ball they’ve come to know. Wilson has ensured that new balls will be made with the exact same materials and in the same fashion as Spalding balls. Maintaining the same leather and specifications of the current ball is critical. Different conferences use different balls in college, and the results are stunningly dissimilar. All basketballs have a different grip and feel, but it has been made public that players prefer the leather ball that the NBA has consistently used.
While many think that the change is just a logo/brand, we’ll have to wait and see if this affects performance in any way.