- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 29, 2006

The 60-year run of the leather basketball is over.

The NBA and Spalding yesterday announced they will introduce a new basketball for the 2006-07 season. It’s the first design change for the ball in 35 years and just the second since leather balls were introduced to the league in 1956.

The new ball will have two interlocking panels rather than the traditional eight. It’s made up of a new microfiber composite dubbed “Cross Traxxion” designed to control moisture and allow players a better grip. The new composite material does not require a break-in period like leather balls, Spalding said.

The ball will be used in all NBA events leading up to next season, including summer leagues and preseason camps. It will be available in stores to the general public on October 31.

NBA teams tested the new ball rigorously in practice over the last year, and it was used during some NBA All-Star game festivities and in NBA Developmental League games.

The NCAA abandoned the leather ball in favor of a composite for its basketball tournaments four years ago, and most college teams now use a composite as well. The WNBA also uses a composite.

The NBA’s announcement comes after Adidas earlier this month introduced a newly designed soccer ball in time for the World Cup. Those balls have received mixed reviews from players, but have been popular among fans, who have purchased more than 15 million of them.

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