Stern confident new NBA ball will win over players

10/11/2006 - NBA

COLOGNE, Germany -- NBA commissioner David Stern suspects
complaints about his league's new ball will go away -- just as they
did in soccer.

Some of the NBA's biggest stars, including
Shaquille O'Neal,
Dwyane Wade and Steve Nash, have said the ball is sticky when dry
and slippery when wet.

"To make me feel better, I went back and looked at reactions
when Adidas introduced its new soccer ball," Stern said
Wednesday. "There was virtually identical commentary."

The Adidas ball, introduced before this year's World Cup, was
met with heavy criticism from many players, especially goalkeepers.
But few complaints were heard during the tournament.

O'Neal said the new basketball "feels like one of those cheap
balls that you buy at the toy store, indoor-outdoor balls."

Stern, in Cologne to attend the final day of a four-team
tournament that includes the Phoenix Suns and Philadelphia 76ers,
said he would keep monitoring the situation.

"But as the players get more used to it, it will become less
and less of an issue for us," Stern said.

Stern also said NBA teams will continue to tour Europe for
preseason games. He called the current trip a "complete success"
-- apart from seeing a fan in Cologne wearing a counterfeit Allen
Iverson jersey in Seattle SuperSonics colors.

"Then I knew there was some hanky-panky," Stern said with a
chuckle. "It was over the top."

The Los Angeles Clippers and the San Antonio Spurs also have
been playing in Europe, and Stern said there was a long list of
cities eager to host NBA teams, including London.

"We'd like to make this an annual affair," he said. "Players
have been very happy, they have been enriched by the experience."