June 28, 2006

League switching to synthetic ball next season

By Larry Fine

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The NBA will switch from its
traditional leather ball to a synthetic one next season, the
league's first ball change since 1970.

Commissioner David Stern and Boston Celtics player Paul
Pierce appeared at a news conference on Wednesday to introduce
the new Spalding ball, made with a microfiber composite
material that is easier to grip and provides a truer bounce.

The new ball, comprised of two, cross-shaped panels that
interlock rather than the eight oblong panels on the
traditional ball, has the same orange color as the old ball.

The last time the NBA ball was changed, the design was
altered from four panels to eight.

"Spalding has been working on it since '92 ... but our
players have always been protective of their beloved leather
ball," Stern told Reuters.

"We began testing and looking at it and understood that
over the years at high school and college our players are
playing with synthetic balls.

"There were issues with moisture control and the like,"
Stern said. "This year we're satisfied."

Pierce, a high-scoring swingman who has averaged 23.5
points a game in his eight-year NBA career, said he would
probably be dunking the ball more next season.

"It takes a while to get used to the leather ball," said
Pierce. "It's slippery.

"But not this ball. I think I'm going to have more dunks
next year because I can take it off the dribble and palm it

"With the old ball I couldn't. I'll have more ball