NBA Abandons Synthetic Balls, Returns to Leather

  • Playlist
  • Download
  • Embed
    <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

The NBA will go back to leather basketballs in the New Year. The league announced Monday that its experiment with micro-fiber composite balls had failed. The decision follows a steady stream of complaints, and reports of ball-related injuries.


Come the new year, the NBA will go back to leather basketballs. The league announced yesterday its experiment with microfiber composite balls had failed. The decision follows a steady stream of complaints and reports of ball-related injuries. Here's NPR's Tom Goldman.

TOM GOLDMAN: So, evidently hell also hath no fury like an NBA player who has his leather ball taken away. The complaints about the microfiber composite replacement began when the season started from the biggest guys like center Shaquille O'Neal, to the little ones who handled the ball most, like Phoenix guard Steve Nash.

The ball was too slippery when wet, too sticky when dry. So sticky, said Nash, that it gave him little paper cut-like slashes on his hands. Here's New Jersey Nets forward Richard Jefferson.

Mr. RICHARD JEFFERSON (New Jersey Nets): Steve Nash had 20 assists the other night and he's still saying the ball sucks. David Stern wants his players to be happy and that's what he's trying to do.

GOLDMAN: NBA Commissioner Stern reportedly made his startling about-face because of the hand injuries. Players' Union head Billy Hunter says most are happy with Stern's decision.

Tom Goldman, NPR News.

Copyright © 2006 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

NPR thanks our sponsors

Become an NPR sponsor

Support comes from