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Synthetic basketballs, 2006

After decades of leather-covered basketballs, Stern announced the NBA would use new microfiber-composite-covered game balls for the 2006-07 season. They allegedly had better grip and a "truer bounce," and wouldn't need to be broken in. Just one problem: Players hated them.

They were difficult to control, players said, and they cut your hands. A study also found the new balls bounced more erratically and absorbed more moisture.

Stern said Spalding worked on the balls for 14 years. They lasted barely a month.

On Dec. 1, 2006, the players’ union filed unfair labor practice charges against the league for making the switch without consulting players. Ten days later, the NBA said the leather ball would return on Jan. 1, 2007, an in-season change unprecedented in major American sports. Player outcry and negative public sentiment had spurred Stern to reverse course, a rare case of concerted opposition impacting the often-dictatorial commish.

– Dan Devine

David Stern's five missteps

David Stern's 30-year tenure as NBA commissioner wasn't flawless. Here are five of his more forgettable moments or ideas.