Dec 26, 2006, 05:07 pm
The NBA is switching back to the old leather ball.

I know, it’s last week’s news; but it’s also next week’s news, because on January 1st the old leather ball will back and the players are thrilled.

As a recreational player, I never understood the complaints.

At the park we play with a different ball every day.

Today it’s the leather ball and I shoot 30 percent. Yesterday was the cheap ball and I shot 30 percent. Tomorrow will be the red, white and blue Harlem Globetrotters special and I will still shoot 30 percent.

I don’t have a problem with the current ball, but I’m also not a professional. Ask an NBA player and you will get a litany of criticism.

LeBron James said, “when you take our basketball away from us, that's not a transition we handle."

Basketball is about making shots. LeBron shot 48.0 percent from the field last season and now, with the basketball he can’t “handle,” he is shooting 48.2 percent. If he had attended college he might understand that 48.2 is an improvement over 48.0.

Two-time reigning MVP Steve Nash has complained that he has cuts and abrasions on his hands as a result of the new ball. His shooting percentage this year is a career best 52.0 percent.

Even if he is right about the ball hurting his hands, it may be helping his team. His assists per game have gone up from 10.5 last year to 11.6 this year. Could it be that his hands hurt so bad that he’s forced to get rid of the ball sooner?

I realize that as professional basketball players, their opinion is much more valuable than my “go to a park once a week and shoot 30 percent” opinion.

So I decided to ask the opinion of other professional basketball players. Players who spend their entire lives playing basketball, yet don’t have the millions of dollars that LeBron, Nash, and others have.

I asked some NBA D-League players what they thought.

Does it mess up their shot? Does it bounce funny? Does it cut their hands? Is it too dry? Is it too wet? Is it too bright of an orange?

Daryl “Majic” Dorsey plays point guard for the Anaheim Arsenal. He is averaging 10 points a game and shoots a healthy 93 percent from the free throw line.

I had to know, as a point guard, are his hands scraped and cut up?

It turns out that Dorsey’s hands are fine. Thank God. I guess he’s one of the lucky few.

“I’m a dribbler and it doesn’t really hurt my hands when I’m dribbling. It’s easy to grip. And real smooth,” Dorsey said.

Let’s call it a Christmas Miracle that his hands are okay. But what about the wetness, Majic?

“The sweat is absorbed. I don’t like sweaty balls.”

So now I’m thinking that Dorsey is either a freak of nature, or a spokesman for Spalding.

I asked the same questions to this year’s first overall draft pick in the D-League, Corsley Edwards. Edwards has seen time with the New Orleans Hornets so maybe he could see the problems with the new ball.

Edwards (Anaheim Arsenal, 13.9 ppg, 9.6 rpg), surprisingly, likes it better.

“It’s better for shooting,” Edwards said. “When you throw it high off the glass, it’s gonna go in ‘cause it’s gonna stick to the glass. That leather ball might skip over the backboard.”

He likes the consistency of the new ball. “[The old ball] is gonna hit the rim, hit the back, the front, might go up or might come back down.”

Maybe the NBDL is full of Spalding reps? Then again, maybe the ball just isn’t that bad.

Either way, there is good news for Dorsey, Edwards and the rest of the D-League: they are keeping the new composite ball for the remainder of the season.

And what about Lebron and the rest of the NBA? Good news as well: their problems will end next week when the league brings the old leather ball back.

As for me, I’ll just go to the park and count myself lucky by remembering Majic Dorsey’s wise words: “I don’t like sweaty balls.” Agreed Majic, nobody likes sweaty balls.

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