For nearly 30 years, NBA basketballs have borne the signature of Commissioner David Stern. But with Stern set to step down on Feb. 1, 2014, we're nearing the dawn of a new day when it comes to orange roundie-related writing ... and as Brooklyn Nets beat writer Tim Bontemps of the New York Post noted Thursday, that day appears to have already arrived:
Bontemps came across several balls with "Silver’s name signed above 'Commissioner' [...] already in use" at the Nets' practice facility. You don't want to be caught off-guard when the changeover comes; smart thinking, Coach Kidd, especially now that we know the switch is coming sooner than initially anticipated.
When reports of the move to a Silver-signed ball first circulated back in June, the word was that while Stern would be out of his office on Feb. 1, his John Hancock would remain on the NBA's game balls (and on the ones on sporting-good-store shelves) until the start of the 2014-15 season. But just before the start of this 2013-14 campaign back in October, the NBA and Spalding altered their course, according to Scott Soshnick of Bloomberg News:
The company, which has made the official ball since the 1983-84 season, changed course after a Bloomberg News story on June 6 reported the league’s signature piece of equipment would carry an outdated signature for much of next season, said Paul Sullivan, a senior vice president at Spalding.
“After that article came out we talked a lot more about the NBA,” Sullivan said in a telephone interview from company headquarters in Bowling Green, Kentucky. “We jumped through hoops making sure the NBA has Adam Silver balls that are broken in and ready for Feb. 1.” [...]
Spalding has provided each NBA team with 72 Stern-signed basketballs for use this season, which begins Oct. 29. In December, the company will give each of the 30 clubs 36 — half a season’s worth — of Silver-signed basketballs for use over the remainder of the schedule.
Two months is more than enough time for players to get the Silver-signed balls ready for game use, Sullivan said.
“The only way to break-in a leather game ball is by playing with it,” he said.
Or, in this case, by practicing with it.
- - - - - - -