In a memo issued to players, the NBA stated that it will stop the use of Spaldings new synthetic ball and return to the traditional leather on January 1. The decision comes two weeks after the National basketball Players Association filed a grievance with the National Labor Relations Board, claiming that the NBA had failed to test the new synthetic balls adequately before adopting them for the season.
LeBron James, Shaquille ONeal and Jason Kidd publicly complained the ball was too sticky when dry, too slippery when wet and cut their fingers. Spalding reportedly has 450 leather balls on-hand and ready for NBA use.
In a prepared statement, NBA Commissioner David Stern said, “Our players response to this particular composite ball has been overwhelmingly negative, and we are acting accordingly. Although testing performed by Spalding and the NBA demonstrated that the new composite basketball was more consistent than leather – and statistically there has been an improvement in shooting, scoring and ball-related turnovers – the most important statistic is the view of our players.”
“Spaldings main objective is to uphold the integrity of the game of basketball,” stated Spalding Group President and CEO Scott Creelman. “For 130 years, Spaldings commitment has been and remains providing the best players in the world with the best product for the game. We believe the micro fiber composite ball offers many superior characteristics to leather however we firmly support any decision that improves player satisfaction. We will work closely with the NBA to ensure a smooth transition and to determine the best product going forward.”