New York, NY—Lebron James and company will hear a different bounce on the hardwood starting with the 2021-22 season, NBA players won’t be dribbling Spalding but Wilson basketballs for the first time in decades.
The NBA’s contract with Spalding is expiring and the league decided to go back to old school with the new partnership. This happens to be the league’s 75th anniversary, sources with knowledge of the deal told Yahoo Sports.
“This partnership with Wilson returns us to our roots as we plan for the future,” said Salvatore LaRocca, NBA President, Global Partnerships. “We were partners for 37 seasons dating back to when Wilson manufactured the first official NBA basketballs in 1946, and we look forward to growing the game of basketball together.”
Wilson will serve as the official game ball of the WNBA, NBA G League, NBA 2K League and Basketball Africa League (BAL).
Spalding has been the official game ball of the NBA since 1983. Prior to 1983, Wilson was the league’s partner for 37 years.
Spalding released a statement through the company’s Twitter account.
“Today it was announced that Spalding’s partnership with the National Basketball Association will conclude following the 2020-21 NBA season.
“Spalding developed the first basketball in 1894, nearly a century before tipping off a historic partnership with the NBA. We are proud of our nearly four-decade relationship.
Moving forward, Spalding will remain as deeply embedded in the game of basketball as we were the day we helped start it. As the global leader in basketball equipment, our passion for the sport will continue to drive our innovative products and everlasting bond with players and fans around the world.”
The same leather and product specifications will be used to produce the new ball with the assistance from the NBA and NBPA, which will create a player advisory board to offer suggestions. Wilson basketball engineers, product designers and player insights specialists will work with the NBPA advisory board to create the new game balls.
As for the basketball, it will still be manufactured using all the same materials, the same eight-panel configuration, and performance specifications as the current ball. The league and NBPA will create an advisory board to collaborate with Wilson’s designers on the new game balls.
The WNBA will continue using a composite type basketball.
Wilson is the official game ball of the NCAA tournament and is used in most high school games around the nation.
“Our commitment to growing the game of basketball on the global stage is at the heart of Wilson and our new partnership with the NBA,” said Kevin Murphy, General Manager, Wilson Basketball. “Our passion for this game and the league runs incredibly deep, as does our history with it. And as we start this new chapter in the game, our focus and energy will be on supporting the league and the players, coaches and fans with the most advanced, high-performance game basketballs possible.”