Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The NBA's New Coke

This morning brings the somewhat unsurprising news that the NBA has decided, effective January 1st, to return to its traditional leather ball, ending a three month experiment that was thoroughly criticized by NBA players.

Interestingly, if the goal of the new ball was to increase scoring, it seems to be working. Scoring is up about 4.1 points per game so far this year, based on numbers availale on the NBA (2006-07, 97.99 ppg so far this year) and ESPN (2005-06, 93.83 ppg) sites. While the current seasons' stats are only partial, anecdotal evidence also supports the arugment that the new ball is easier to shoot (or at least it goes in more often).

On a personal level, having played with the new ball a couple of times, I can confirm a definite difference in the "feel." The new ball seemed a little deader, and the channels seemed to be both narrower and shallower than on the traditional NBA leather ball. That being said, the old NBA ball, with the deeper grooves, always required an adjustment from the college or other leather balls we used.

So say 'Goodbye' to the microfiber NBA ball. It seems destined for a place in the sports trivia hall-of-fame, next to Charlie O. Finley's orange baseballs.

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