Through the entire 30-year tenure of David Stern as NBA Commissioner and into the Adam Silver era, Spalding has made the official basketball of the NBA.
That is about to change — Wilson will take over as the official basketball of the NBA in a couple of seasons, reports Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.
The NBA’s contract with Spalding is expiring and now Wilson will be the new partner to produce the league’s official game ball starting with the 2021-22 season, which happens to be the league’s 75th anniversary, sources with knowledge of the deal informed Yahoo Sports.
The league’s separation from Spalding was described as “mutual.”
Wilson’s Evolution and NCAA balls are very popular at the high school and college level, however, the NBA and Wilson are teaming up to create a new ball — a genuine leather ball, instead of the composite leather of the Evolution/NCAA — for the league, Haynes reports.
The same leather and product specifications will be used to produce the new ball with the assistance from the NBA and NBPA, which will create a player advisory board to offer suggestions. Wilson basketball engineers, product designers and player insights specialists will work with the NBPA advisory board to create the new game balls.
The NBA and Spalding tried switching the fabric of the ball for the 2006-07 season — it was made of a trademarked “Cross Traxxion” microfiber material — but players, particularly shooters, hated it. The ball didn’t absorb sweat, so it got slick as the game went on, and players felt their hands were dry and needed lotion after playing games with the new ball. Within a couple of months, the new ball was gone and the old ball was back. The league learned its lesson with that mistake — only retired players had been in on the testing — and active players will be in on the new ball design with Wilson (not getting buy-in from the players during testing was the kind of mistake Adam Silver’s NBA does not make).