The Problem with the NBA’s New Basketball – an SEO-optimized H1 title for a blog post would be: “Troubles with the New NBA Ball”

This article is a summary of the YouTube video ‘The Problem With The NBA’s New Basketball’ by MJ2KALLDAY

Written by: Recapz Bot

Written by: Recapz Bot

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NBA introduces new airless basketball, but faces player concerns.

Key Insights

  • The NBA has introduced a new airless basketball that does not require pumping.
  • Previous ball changes in the NBA have resulted in negative outcomes, such as air balls and player injuries.
  • The new basketball is 3D printed using an elastomeric polymer and has hexagonal holes for bounce.
  • Previous ball changes, like the transition from leather to microfiber composite, caused negative player feedback.
  • The current Wilson basketball has undergone rigorous testing, including durability tests like hitting it with a baseball bat.
  • The NBA wants to avoid repeating mistakes made in 2006 when a ball change led to negative player reactions and a recall.
  • The new 3D printed basketball lacks the softness of a traditional ball and may have issues with consistency and bounce.
  • The impact on shooting and ball movement in different air conditions, particularly indoors, remains unknown.
  • Concerns include the lack of air resistance, consistency of bounce, dirt and sweat buildup, grip, and the rollout plan.
  • Involving players in the testing and decision-making process is essential for the success of the new basketball.

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Transcript

[00:00:00] This is the NBA’s new basketball, and it’s airless, which means you never have to pump it cuz it’s full of holes. But players have a history with ball changes not going so well, causing air balls, anger, and bleeding. So what’s the big deal about this new futuristic looking basketball that looks like it can’t be used outdoors, and why does the NBA want to risk all that again? We’re gonna find out, because this basketball might break the NBA, and change how we play basketball forever.

But to start, we need to understand how the NBA’s basketball has changed over the years. From a soccer ball in 1881, to the full green leather Spalding basketball in 1983, most recently the NBA changed the ball in 2021 to Wilson, and at the beginning of the season, players were missing shots badly. Just one month into the season, Damien Lillard was shooting 23% from 3. The league had its lowest 3-point percentage since 1998, and the most turnover since 2006. Paul George said, it doesn’t have the same touch or softness as the Spalding ball had. You’ll see this year, there’s gonna be a lot of bad misses. And there were. Of course, players adjusted. Basketball had only changed many factors, but this wasn’t reinventing the wheel. Basketball stayed the same material.

When the NBA last changed materials, there was an even worse reaction. But let’s understand what this new basketball is made of, because these new ones are going to be 3D printed out of an elastomeric polymer. Basically something similar in molecular structure to natural rubbers. The ball still has the 8 panels like a traditional basketball including seams, but oh yeah, it has hexagonal holes. The biggest challenge was for it to bounce similar to other basketballs. The way current basketballs work, when it makes contact with the ground, it compresses which pushes against the air inside the ball. The air pushes back against the ground depending on the level of air pressure inside, and the ball bounces back up. But without air pressure, these new basketballs are more like those small bouncy balls in stores. When the ball hits the ground, the polymer chains in rubber uncoil and straighten kind of like a spring, which causes the ball to bounce right back up.

Wilson took several years to find the right material that gives a consistent bounce similar to current basketballs. The main advantage of this is that you do not have to worry about a ball deflating or popping. Jenny and Martin Jr., the NBA player who dunked with this basketball, who’s bouncing the ball right here, said it felt like a normal leather ball. According to Wilson, they have rigorously tested the basketball, including swinging at the ball with a baseball bat, ensuring that the basketball is durable. But they are hoping to avoid the mistakes that happened 17 years ago.

The last time the NBA made a change so drastic using science was in 2006. When they changed from a leather ball to microfiber composite, and it broke the NBA. What is up dudes, duds, ballers, players. It’s ya boi MJ. Spalding stated that there was a shortage of the leather required for the already existing game balls, and so they turned to another material, and called these basketballs cross traction. They also stated that these new basketballs would remove the break-in period a ball needs. Just one month into the season, players already had some things to say, like Shaq, who said it feels like one of those cheap balls you buy at the store, and that whoever did this needs to be fired. MVP Steve Nash said it tears his fingers apart. LeBron rival Deshaun Stevenson said I hate it. Even the NBA’s best shooter at the time, Ray Allen, said I have to constantly put lotion all over my hands because my fingers are cracking and it’s causing splits on my fingertips. Wait, from a basketball? What? And he wasn’t the only one. Jason Terry showed reporters what looked like paper cuts on his fingers. Eddie Curry claimed it stuck to his middle finger. Dirk said it made his hands bleed. How did Spalding get it so wrong?

It’s actually quite similar to how Wilson is approaching this new basketball. Cross traction had been used in the two previous All-Star weekends, and in the D-League. Retired players Mark Jackson, Steve Kerr, and Reggie Miller tested it, but actual NBA players were never involved in the process. The NBPA filed a complaint just one and a half months later saying, you have shown the players a great deal of disrespect. LeBron even said, the only thing that we love the most is the basketball. That was my biggest problem. Why would you change something that means so much to us? Mark Cuban, the owner of the Dallas Mavericks, wasn’t convinced by the NBA saying the ball was performing extraordinarily well, and commissioned physicists from the University of Texas to test the ball. And what he found, proved. The NBA was lying. The cross traction ball retained more frictive dirt and was slipperier when it absorbed any moisture like sweat. But perhaps the worst of it all, they found the ball bounced 5-8% less than the old one, and was 30% more erratic in how it bounced. And bam, David Stern, Spalding, and the NBA were forced to recall the basketball.

But this isn’t too far from what we’re hearing about the new 3D printed basketball. It’s more sustainable, can be recreated without any variants, but… Some people have gotten hands-on with these new balls, and based on this small clip, it doesn’t look like it bounces similar to a current game ball. Even here, the ball doesn’t really bounce back near the waist. Feedback from people who tried it said, it lacked the softness of a traditional ball. But what we haven’t talked about, perhaps the biggest concern, and something that Wilson has avoided even mentioning, is how shooting works. I scoured the entire web, looked at all what Wilson said, first-hand experiences of the ball, including from Wall Street Journal, but none of them touched on how the ball travels through the air.

Because air is constantly going through the ball, not against it, there is less air resistance. Outdoors, when people are used to more air resistance and conditions, will make the ball cut through the air similar to indoors. Which is great, but how will it perform indoors? There are 5 potential issues I see. So if you’re enjoying the content, subscribe. But first, the lack of air resistance completely changes the force on the ball. The second issue is the consistency of the bounce. Wilson is open about trying to produce more of these basketballs to get more people to test it because it’s not perfect. But as we’ve seen, the bounce isn’t coming back up and we haven’t seen enough to make a conclusion.

Several other questions come to mind like, will the ball pick up more or less dirt outdoors? Will the feel of the ball cause more frictive dirt pickup like the cross traction? Which leads me to my third issue, dirt and sweat can get deposited inside the basketball and change the play over time. It could make airflow through the ball a bit different, the ball more lopsided, even the slightest because of that last structure with holes, especially outdoors. And to my fourth issue, how will the elastic polymer last pattern impact grip? With less surface area, fewer contact points for your fingers, it should make it a bit harder. And in an NBA game, every small percentage plays a role. I mean, we’ve seen players not be able to pick up the ball and that could get worse.

Does this mean we’re going to see more turnovers? Wilson has already made the statement that these basketballs are not NBA ready. Not yet. But if history has taught us anything, two All-Star appearances is enough to get the go-ahead. But the fifth and final issue is the rollout and how their testing is taking place. Since it’s been pretty vague, when you make a change so drastic all at once is where you see adverse reactions. One thing is clear, if you don’t involve the players, this basketball will also be another failure.

The all-day notification rush out goes to an OG, Day 1, Maria Jo, who just wants to see Curry shoot with these new balls. Thanks for the all-day support. If you want to know how Jokic exposed the NBA media, there’s a video right here. If you’re still here, you’ll really want to comment, so I know. It’s ya boi MJ. We Out! And we fine.

This article is a summary of the YouTube video ‘The Problem With The NBA’s New Basketball’ by MJ2KALLDAY