As the Ball Bounces: Silver Name Replaces Stern's on February 1
In what had become a little bit of a sticky issue, Scott Soshnick of Bloomberg News today reported that the NBA will indeed switch its signature ball midseason from one signed by outgoing commissioner David Stern to one signed by incoming commissioner Adam Silver, with the change coming on February 1.
The "new" Silver balls (the name, not the color) manufactured by Spalding were a cause for concern, since they might not be broken in properly to be used at a critical part of the NBA season.
Earlier in the Stern regime, the league had once tried to break in a new type of ball during the season to disastrous results, and it went so poorly that it had to go back to the older-style ball. The league will avoid that issue this time by getting the teams 70 Silver-signed game balls to use for two months prior to the switch, according to the story, so that they can be properly broken in and to ensure that the transition is a smooth one.
It is a unique problem with broken-in balls for the NBA. Baseballs are always new; footballs are relatively pristine and rotated in during games, as are soccer balls; and hockey pucks are hockey pucks. No commissioner signs a tennis or golf ball, and those are also relatively disposable.
Basketball? One signed and worn leather ball all the time.
"It is one of those things that seems like a simple deal and an easy transition, but a new ball affecting play, with anyone's signature, can be detrimental to the game, and can make this seemingly smooth transition from David to Adam a little bumpy," said Chris Lencheski, CEO of Front Row Marketing. "At the end of the day what matters is the quality of play, not the signature on the ball, and the last thing anyone wants is controversy over something correctable. Spalding knows that, and so does the league, so this is a good solution."
Silver, a low-key NBA lifer and one of the most respected individuals in sport, has made the transition relatively seamless thus far, and this past week's final board of governors meeting under Stern went flawlessly, with the owners even taking home their own Stern bobblehead as a last memento.
The switching of the signature on the game ball is more ceremonial but is an essential part of the stamp Silver will put on the game when he officially assumes the top seat on February 1, a crowded sports week which will also include the 2014 Super Bowl and the Sochi Olympics.
His first formal event in all likelihood will be at the NBA All-Star Game in New Orleans on February 16, one which will now be played with a ball signed by the new commissioner, not the old one.
All Silver's issues should be solved so seamlessly going forward.
Jerry Milani is a featured columnist at Bleacher Report. All quotes were obtained firsthand unless noted.
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