Just call it the 37-year itch.
The NBA announced Thursday it will debut its new ball, manufactured by sporting goods company Wilson, at the NBA draft combine. The week-long event begins Monday in Chicago. The ball will be used in the 2021-22 season, the 75th anniversary of the NBA.
Spalding provided the balls the past 37 seasons. Wilson did the job in the other seasons.
"Our feeling was Spalding is a company at the top of that pyramid, but Wilson certainly shares that reputation with them," Sal LaRocca, NBA president of global partnership, told Yahoo Sports. "Wilson is highly regarded in the basketball world. In the first 74 NBA seasons, Wilson had the first 37 and Spalding had the next 37. So our running joke is these partnerships may change every 37 years."
Contract terms were not announced.
The ball has been in production for more than a year, and Wilson worked with the league, the players and the players association to create the ball. Balls were sent to players for feedback, and the manufacturer discussed the product over Zoom calls with players and team representatives.
"We went from six samples, to three, to two, to one," Jose Calderon, special assistant to the executive director at National Basketball Players Association, told Yahoo Sports. "But any time you introduce something new and even more importantly something new like a basketball, our everyday tool, everybody is going to have a difference of opinion. The process was long but we did the best we could to get everybody's feedback and we're happy with where we ended up."
The ball will be sold to the public on the Wilson.com website beginning July 29. It is expected to retail for about $150.
--Field Level Media