Saturday, July 08, 2006

A Whole New Game Ball

The NBA is introducing a new Official Game Ball for play beginning in the 2006-07 season. The new ball, manufactured by Spalding, features a new design and a new material that together offer better grip, feel, and consistency than the current leather ball. This marks the first change to the ball in over 35 years and only the second in 60 seasons. In 1970, the ball was transitioned from a four panel to an eight panel ball. NBA Commissioner David Stern, Spalding Group Vice President Dan Touhey, NBA Sr. Vice President of Basketball Operations Stu Jackson, Boston Celtics’ Forward Paul Pierce, and NBA on TNT analyst and two-time NBA champion Kenny Smith unveiled the new Game Ball today at the NBA Store on Fifth Avenue prior to the 2006 NBA Draft.

The new ball features Spalding’s Cross Traxxion™ technology, a union of revolutionary design and breakthrough material. The design is comprised of two interlocking, cross-shaped panels rather than the eight oblong panels found on traditional basketballs. As a result, there is more material coverage. The material is a microfiber composite with moisture management that provides superior grip and feel throughout the course of a game. Additionally, the new composite material eliminates the need for a break-in period, which is necessary for the current leather ball, and achieves consistency from ball to ball.

The interlocking cross-panel design has one-third the channel area of the previous official ball to provide more material coverage and better grip.

The NBA and Spalding subjected the ball to a rigorous evaluation process that included laboratory and on-court testing. Every NBA team received the new ball and had the opportunity to use it in practice. The ball also was tested in the NBA Development League and was used in activities during NBA All-Star 2006 in Houston. NBA retired players Steve Kerr and Mark Jackson participated in testing the new ball as well.

“Spalding’s continual efforts to advance basketball technology have yielded the optimal ball, one that is worthy of the new Official NBA Game Ball designation,” said Spalding Group President and CEO Scott Creelman. “We are honored that the NBA collaborated with us to make this change.”

The ball will be used in all NBA events leading up to next season including summer leagues, preseason and training camps, and NBA Europe Live presented by EA Sports. All active players will receive a personalized ball, as will each player selected in the 2006 NBA Draft.

Fans will have an opportunity to see the new ball tonight during the 2006 NBA Draft televised live on ESPN at 7 p.m. EST. The ball will hit store shelves at major sporting goods outlets on October 31 coinciding with the tip-off of the 2006-07 season. A limited number of new balls will be available today at the world’s only NBA Store on Fifth Avenue in New York City. Fans can also pre-order their new ball online at for delivery at the start of the 2006-07 season.

As the Official Game Ball supplier of the NBA since 1983, Spalding will continue to produce the only basketball used during all NBA practices, exhibitions, games and international competitions. Spalding maintains the exclusive rights to produce and sell a complete line of NBA and team-identified basketballs in all sizes including full, junior, youth and mini.

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