Premium Partners

NBA Ends Spalding Contract, Moves to Wilson Balls

Andy Berg

The NBA has ended its 37-year partnership with Spalding and will be moving to Wilson balls starting in the 2021-22 season.

The Wilson game ball will first be used at the 2021 NBA draft combine in Chicago (June 21-27). 

“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.”

The NBA had been considering a new game ball for some time, but plans were delayed because of the pandemic. The new ball took into consideration feedback from players.

“Nothing like this has even been done. We actually developed and worked with the NBA, the NBA players, the Players Association and the NBA on-court team and developed a game back while everyone was on lockdown,” Kevin Murphy, general manager of Wilson Team Sports told Yahoo Sports. “Lots of balls were shipped across the globe, especially to players back and forth. We had numerous zoom calls with players and team reps. It was just an amazing collaboration.”

Murphy said consistency was the top priority in developing the ball.

“No one was asking for major changes, but what they wanted was consistency,” Murphy said. “These are the best players in the world and they have a certain level of expectations. That’s why when we started working with the NBA, we all agreed that we’re not going to change the specs of the basketball. What we needed to do was deliver the product they were already using and make sure that everything feels consistent as we transition from one maker to another.

“The good news is what we predicted at the beginning was the fact it would be a collaborative effort and we would follow the players and make sure we’re producing a product the players want and we did get there. It took the full year to get there, and actually a little more than the full year because of the situation. But we got there. So we feel really great about it.”

During the process, balls were shipped to hundreds of players for feedback.

The ball will retail for about $150 and will feature the same leather and eight-panel configuration and specifications as the current Spalding ball.

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