Complaints about the composition of the new game ball in the NBA prompted the players’ union to lodge one of the two unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board late last week.

Stars Shaquille O’Neal to LeBron James have been among the most vocal critics of the new ball, arguing that it bounces differently to the old leather version both off the floor and the rim. The new synthetic material is more sticky when it’s dry, but players claim it’s more difficult to handle when wet.

“You worry about that ball, and it kind of keeps you from doing what you have to do with it,” Suns guard Raja Bell said. “I let that go. But I do think they should have probably asked guys. If you aren’t going to ask the whole league, at least ask your superstars, the guys who make you the money.”

Commissioner David Stern has acknowledged that the NBA should have sought more input from players before introducing its new game ball.

“Whether or not we did enough prior to it, we think this ball has many of the attributes that Spalding says it has,” Stern told The New York Times this week. “It’s an improvement in many ways. But if our players are unhappy with it, we have to analyze to the nth degree the cause of their unhappiness.”

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey