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Dribble trouble: James latest NBA star to bash new ball

CLEVELAND -- LeBron James longs for the NBA's old bounce.
He's already tired of the league's new composite game ball.

"It's not a good basketball," the Cleveland Cavaliers'
superstar forward said. "It kind of feels like a basketball you
buy for your kids at Christmas or something."

When James first began practicing with the Spalding ball in
training camp, he said there would be an adjustment period for
players. He didn't envision it as being any kind of problem for the
world's best hoopsters.

But after the season's first week, and following harsh criticism
by Shaquille O'Neal, Dwyane Wade, Steve Nash and others, James,
too, says the ball isn't up to standards.

"Sometimes it feels good, sometimes it doesn't," James said
before Tuesday's game against the Atlanta Hawks. "It's got no
consistency."

James said he didn't like the smaller balls used by FIBA at this
summer's world championships in Japan, but that he and his U.S.
national teammates got used to it. So far, he hasn't gotten
comfortable with the NBA's new synthetic model, which replaced a
leather version used for years.

Among his beefs with the new ball, James said it doesn't have
the same bounce as the old one.

"Sometimes you can grip it, and sometimes during the game it
sticks to your hand," he said. "It won't bounce, it will just
roll on you. I don't know why we can't get used to this ball. But
it's just not good."

James first tried the new ball in last season's All-Star Game in
Houston.

"I was the MVP of that game," he reminded reporters with a
smile. "But it wasn't because of the basketball."

James also doesn't understand why the league changed balls in
the first place.

"You can shorten our shorts, tell us how to wear wristbands,
things like that. Change the dress code. But the one thing we care
about is the basketball," he said. "When you start changing the
thing we play with every single day, it doesn't make sense to me --
at all."

James is also getting used to the NBA's new emphasis on stopping
players and coaches from whining about calls. Referees aren't
taking any lip, and if they hear or see too much, they're coming
down hard.

"Technicals are being thrown like Peyton Manning passes,"
James said. "You have to watch you say and me being an emotional
player, I've always been passionate about the game. So I've got to
be cool."