AFTER 37 years, the NBA has decided to drop Spalding and cut a deal with Wilson to create official balls for the 2021-2022 season.
The announcement caused a bit of a stir on social media, not just because the NBA seemingly dropped a longstanding partnership out of the blue, but because there was applause over the league's choice. The Wilson Evolution — a composite ball that is, according to the company, the “preferred basketball in high schools across the [US]” — was cited as proof of Wilson’s superiority over Spalding.
Kendrick Perkins, meanwhile, expressed his trepidation, remembering the last time the NBA tried to switch balls up (from leather to synthetic) back when he was with the Celtics in 2006.
It turns out, though, that it may not matter at all.
According to the NBA’s official statement on the matter — it will be the exact same ball. Just with the Wilson logo on the side.
“Wilson will manufacture the NBA, WNBA and NBA G League game balls using the same materials, eight-panel configuration and performance specifications as current game balls and will also source the same leather currently used in the NBA,” said the NBA.
It added: “The NBA and its players will work jointly with Wilson to develop and approve the new game ball.”
As ESPN’s Amin Elhassan explained on the Hoopstreams Twitter show (which he co-hosts with Perkins): “It’s funny how a bunch of people in the [Twitter] mentions say, ‘Oh, but the Wilson Evolution' — no, no, no, no. You don’t get it. There’s no such thing as a really good ball for an NBA player other than the traditional NBA ball.”
Elhassan further explained that he was able to confirm with the NBA that it would be the same ball. “Just changing the name from Spalding to Wilson, much like when we switch from David Stern to Adam Silver, all they did was change the signature on the ball,” he said.
So there you have it. Same ball. Different name.
Fun fact: Before signing with Spalding in 1983, the NBA previously partnered with Wilson — also for 37 long years. Maybe in 2058, the NBA will go back to Spalding.