The NBA's got balls but what they really need is moisturizer

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Every now and then a major piece of news trivia slips through our posts and we feel shameful, remiss, careless, negligent, embarrassed. Such is the case today, as I confess before each and every one of you loyal readers, that, indeed, we are late "“ very late "“ in delivering the following interesting bit of sports trivia.

After 35+ years, the NBA has gone and introduced a new Official Game Ball for play this season, only the second change to the basketball in 60 seasons.

The last time the ball changed was in 1970, when the standard four-panel design was replaced by an eight-panel ball. This year's new ball has interlocking, cross-shaped panels that Spalding, who has always produced the "official NBA ball," calls Cross Traxxionâ„¢.

According to the NBA's website:

The [new] material is a microfiber composite with moisture management that provides superior grip and feel throughout the course of a game. Additionally, the new composite material eliminates the need for a break-in period, which is necessary for the current leather ball, and achieves consistency from ball to ball.

But according to the players, the new ball delivers zero net gain. (Sorry folks, couldn't help myself there.) They don't like how it grips, they don't like how it bounces, and, most importantly: apparently it's bad for the skin.

"I have to constantly put lotion all over my hands because my fingers are cracking and it's causing splits on my finger tips," Seattle SuperSonics guard Ray Allen said in this AP article. "(The ball) is drying up all the moisture in my hands"¦"

According to the New York Times, last week, David Stern, the NBA commissioner, "acknowledged the validity of the players' complaints and admitted regret over not consulting them beforehand." Stern also added, "We're close to inking a deal with Jergens to supply all the locker rooms around the country with as many bottles of moisturizer as they need." (Actually, I made that last part up. But the rest of the quote is real.)
So don't be surprised if you hear that the new ball has been replaced by the old ball in the coming weeks. And I promise we won't be months late on that news. Seriously. No, seriously.

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December 11, 2006 - 4:38am
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