The NBA is switching basketball manufacturers. Beginning in the 2021-22 season—coinciding with the league’s 75th anniversary, Wilson Sporting Goods Co. will be the official provider of game balls for the NBA, WNBA, G League, and Basketball Africa League.
“This partnership with Wilson returns us to our roots as we plan for the future,” Salvatore LaRocca, NBA President, Global Partnerships, said in a statement. “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.”
There won’t be much, if any, change to the design and feel of the ball. The leather will come from the same provider that Spalding uses now and the ball will retain its eight-panel configuration. This won’t be like the situation in 2007 when Spalding and the NBA introduced a “New Ball,” one that made Dirk Nowitzki’s hands bleed.
For nearly 40 years, Spalding has served as the official provider of game balls for the NBA. Think of almost any iconic image from the league at there’s a Spalding in the hands of Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Nowitzki, and LeBron James. As the league enters a new era, so does its game ball.
“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.”
It’s fitting that Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic will get a new game ball to make his own. As he ascends the league’s ranks on the court and in popularity, he should have certain signifiers that are specific to his era.
Doncic’s appeal both in the States and around the world will endear the Wilson brand to fans all over. Come 2021, kids in gyms and playgrounds will be able to play with the same Wilson ball that Doncic wows the crowds with nightly. As the leather meets nylon after a deep step back three-pointer, they’ll yell, “Luka!” The marketing campaign writes itself.
What a time for Wilson to get back into the game.