NBA Abandons Synthetic Balls, Returns to Leather

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.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

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.

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