The 2014 offseason could shape up to be a major one, with an unending array of stars and big names hitting the free agent market, and a possible re-shifting of the league’s championship alignment in a way that would put the Decision-fueled 2010 offseason to shame.
As a result, teams will head into 2014-15 with quite a lot riding on their shoulders. Were the Los Angeles Lakers right to re-sign a 36-year old Kobe Bryant to yet another massive contract extension? How will LeBron James handle his new partnership with Kyrie Irving in Cleveland? Will Derrick Rose finally master the art of the pick and roll alongside Kevin Love in Chicago? Will the addition of the un-retired Cuttino Mobley act as the sort of major move Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks have been looking for since winning the title in 2011?
Heady times. And, unfortunately, the league will be served with an obstacle that – jokes aside – could make for a very sloppy start to 2014-15. New basketballs!
All because David Stern is retiring in Feb. of 2014, and the league will have to outfit Adam Silver-signed balls for the upcoming season. From Scott Soshnick at Bloomberg:
Silver-signed basketballs will be used in games and available at retail outlets beginning with the 2014-15 season, at least six months after the leadership change, according to Spalding, a unit of Berkshire Hathaway’s Inc. (BRK/A)’s Fruit of the Loom unit.
“We all knew David Stern would have a lasting legacy on the league, but a new leader deserves a new ball,” said Paul Swangard, managing director of the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center at the University of Oregon. “It’s a missed opportunity for the manufacturer. It’s a missed opportunity for cementing Adam in the role he will take on. It’s really not in the spirit of how the NBA has marketed itself to date.”
Soshnick also reports that, despite his mid-season step down, Stern’s signature will remain on the balls for the duration of the 2013-14 season.
When the NBA attempted to go to a synthetic and environmentally-safe basketball at the outset of the 2006-07 season, the move was widely panned. Partially because the synthetic balls were made of a rougher, grabbier material usually seen in indoor/outdoor balls, but mostly because players simply were not happy about having to work in brand new basketballs during games that actually counted. Each team is sent 72 basketballs to use in game action before the season starts, and there simply aren’t enough reps needed during in-game action to loosen up those baby-fresh NBA-approved spheres.
This new batch won’t have the same drawbacks as the synthetic attempt, and you’re likely to see the Silver-branded balls used extensively during the NBA’s 2014 Summer League in order to scuff up the leather.
Bloomberg reports that the Adam Silver-endorsed official NBA basketball will go on sale at all major sporting goods stores on Aug. 1, 2014. So, get in line now, kids.