NBA

This Date in NBA History (June 29): NBA announces Spalding's new synthetic basketball

On June 29 in 2006, the NBA announced the launch of a new official game ball.

Also produced by the league's official partner Spalding, the ball was made of microfiber composite. Replacing the traditional leather ball with a synthetic one was considered to be the future.

After roughly two years of preparation, the Spalding's new ball was introduced at the NBA Store in New York City with commissioner David Stern, Boston Celtics star Paul Pierce, former NBA champion and NBA on TNT's Kenny Smith, and then Spalding VP of Marketing Dan Touhey in attendance.

The new ball was shipped to every player in the offseason so they could get used to it.

Despite that additional time, as training camp began in September of 2006, players including stars like Steve Nash, Dirk Nowitzki, Shaquille O'Neal and Ray Allen didn't seem to be a fan.

"It's changed a lot of what we are and who we are," Allen said of the ball in 2006. "At the beginning of the year, I kept an open mind to it. Overall, you see the league, shots aren't like they used to be. Every player I've talked to, to a man is in disagreement with the ball."

However, Stern told reporters in mid-October that the league would monitor the situation but must "stay the course."

MORE: Wilson replaces Spalding as NBA's official game ball

Eventually, Stern and the league had to cave as the Players Association got involved by early December for the filling of two unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board.

"Our players' response to this particular composite ball has been consistently negative and we are acting accordingly," Stern said in a statement on Dec. 11, announcing the withdrawal of the new ball.

The synthetic ball, which made its debut in Miami on Oct. 31, only lasted a couple of months as the league adopted the traditional leather ball from New Year's onwards.

Other notable events on June 25

  • In 2004, the Houston Rockets acquired Tracy McGrady in a trade from the Orlando Magic. As part of the deal, the Rockets also received Reece Gaines, Juwan Howard and Tyronn Lue in exchange for Kelvin Cato, Steve Francis and Cuttino Mobley.
  • In 1982, the Los Angeles Lakers selected James Worthy with the No. 1 pick of the NBA Draft.

The views expressed here do not represent those of the NBA or its clubs.

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