NBA Names Wilson As Official Ball; Spalding Is Not Happy

The National Basketball Association’s (NBA) announcement last month that Wilson Sporting Goods Co. will replace Spalding as the official game ball of the NBA starting with the 2021/22 season certainly did not sit well with Spalding. After all, it had been making the basketballs exclusively for the NBA since 1983.

Wilson will also become the official game ball of the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA), NBA G League, NBA 2K League and Basketball Africa League (BAL) as part of the multiyear global partnership.

Although reports say the two partners mutually agreed to the separation, Spalding quickly responded, politely of course, that it “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,” Spalding responded on its social media channels.

The NBA/Wilson partnership will tip-off at different times by league. The NBA Wilson game ball will first be used during the league’s 75th anniversary season in 2021/22. The other debuts will be during the 2022 WNBA season, 2021/22 NBA G League season, 2021 NBA 2K League season, and the inaugural BAL season.

According to the NBA, Wilson will manufacture the game balls using the same materials, eight-panel configuration and performance specs as current game balls and will also source the same leather currently used in the NBA. The NBA also said that its players will work jointly with Wilson to develop and approve the new game ball.

“This partnership with Wilson returns us to our roots as we plan for the future,” says 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.”

“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,” adds Kevin Murphy, GM of 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.”