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Shaq: 'Whoever [changed ball] needs to be fired'

10/3/2006 - NBA Shaquille O'Neal Miami Heat + more

MIAMI -- Heat center Shaquille O'Neal is no fan of the new
basketballs to be used by the NBA this season, and isn't afraid to
say so.

"It's the worst decision some expert, whoever did it, made. ... The NBA's been around how long? A hundred years? Fifty years? So to change it now, whoever that person is needs his college degree revoked. It's a terrible decision."
-- Shaq on the NBA's new ball

"I think the new ball is terrible," O'Neal said Monday. "It's
the worst decision some expert, whoever did it, made. ... The NBA's
been around how long? A hundred years? Fifty years? So to change it
now, whoever that person is needs his college degree revoked. It's
a terrible decision."

It's only the second time in 60 seasons the NBA has changed its
game balls, and the first time in 35 years.

The new model, the league said in a release, "is a microfiber
composite with moisture management that provides superior grip and
feel throughout the course of a game."

O'Neal, along with many of his Heat teammates, strongly
disagree.

"Feels like one of those cheap balls that you buy at the toy
store, indoor-outdoor balls," O'Neal said. "I look for shooting
percentages to be way down and turnovers to be way up, because when
the ball gets wet you can't really control it. Whoever did that
needs to be fired. It was terrible, a terrible decision. Awful. I
might get fined for saying that, but so what?"

Other factors cited by the league in changing the ball is so
that ones used in games will be uniform throughout the league, and
that the leather models needed a breaking-in period that won't be
necessary with the composite.

"I don't like it, because it's different," Heat backup center
Michael Doleac said. "You get used to something, you don't want to
change it. ... But in three years, we'll probably all look back and
not be able to imagine playing with anything else."

"But I think rebounds are going to go up this year. All around the league, I think there's going to be a lot of bricks thrown up there early on."
-- Dwyane Wade on the new ball's effects

The new composite will be the third type of ball Heat guard
Dwyane Wade will use in four months.

Last season's finals were played with the traditional leather
ball, then the FIBA world championships used a ball that was
slightly smaller than the NBA model -- something Wade spent most of
the summer getting familiar with.

"Now I've got to make another adjustment with a ball that I
haven't shot with at all and it's going to be a challenge," Wade
said. "That means it's going to take a lot of late nights for me,
I'll tell you that, to get really adjusted to the ball because I
have no choice."

Wade said the biggest complaint players have with the new ball
is the slippage factor, as in how much grip will be lost when
players' hands sweat and that moisture gets on the ball.

"Hopefully over time, you'll hear nothing about it and we'll
all stop complaining," Wade said. "But I think rebounds are going
to go up this year. All around the league, I think there's going to
be a lot of bricks thrown up there early on."