What does the Wilson basketball mean to the San Antonio Spurs and the NBA at large?
By Dylan Carter
After the recent announcement that the NBA will transition to Wilson basketballs instead of Spalding, the San Antonio Spurs might have some adjusting to do.
After 37 years of playing with Spalding basketballs, the NBA is set to switch to Wilson in the 2021-22 season. This may seem like a minor change on the surface, but the San Antonio Spurs and NBA players around the world are in for a major adjustment.
Whether it be a professional hooper, a collegiate player on the rise, or a street-ball star, anyone who plays basketball knows that the surface of the basketball you play with changes the way you need to shoot. Between the texture of the ball, its size, its fit in your hand and the grip, each ball requires a specific release to optimize one’s jumper. For NBA players and prospects practicing to play in the big leagues, shooting with Spalding balls has been a constant of recent years.
In the grand scheme of things, players are going to adjust pretty easily, but there might be some interesting developments to come along with it. Players who shot better 3-point percentages in college when playing with Wilson balls could find themselves more comfortable shooting the long-ball with the league’s new official ball. It’s also an interesting way to make the transition from the NCAA to the professional ranks easier for up-and-comers out of college.
Spalding has been the NBA’s official ball since 1983 … to go back to Wilson, as Haynes reports here, is a biggie https://t.co/ShwVpD5sur
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) May 13, 2020
For the Spurs’ shooters like Bryn Forbes, the motion of shooting a basketball is a natural and everlasting tape in their minds. Putting up jumpers is like riding a bicycle—the motion comes back to you instinctually. However, there might be a period of adjustment where shooters need to lock themselves in the gym to become better accustomed to the intricacies of shooting this kind of basketball as opposed to the one the NBA has used for over three decades.
Ever since Commissioner Adam Silver took over for David Stern in 2014, the league has been grasping at new ways to innovate and generate revenue for the league. Today, that means changing the official sponsor of the league’s balls. Tomorrow, it could mean an in-season tournament or a 16-seed, Conference-less playoff bracket.
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The point is, San Antonio needs to be prepared for a lot of changes with this being just the tip of the iceberg. There’ll be considerable fallout from the league-wide hiatus beginning with the absence of fans when the league resumes and continuing into the 2020-21 season and beyond. This league, which is based heavily on its tradition and celebration of the sport, has only survived and grown because of its leadership pushing the needle and finding new ways to stay on top.
At one point not so long ago, the Spurs were known for doing that on the court. They paved the way for the Golden State Warriors dynasty by introducing their cutthroat ball-movement and 3-point shooting. They normalized a global roster like the defending-champion Toronto Raptors boasted in their Finals run and now, San Antonio is grasping at the playoffs.
Changing basketball sponsors isn’t going to change all that much for the NBA, but it’s another example of this league’s evolution that the Spurs are failing to fulfill right now. Sticking to fundamentals and investing in their players are core beliefs that the franchise will always rely on, but as for their game-planning and minutes allocation, it’s probably time for them to start catching on to the trends of the league.
This is not the same league as it was even just five years ago. It’s time for some changes.