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Return of ball possible after NBA switches to leather

12/14/2006 - NBA

NBA players rejected the new microfiber ball and now your average playground hoopster can do the same thing.

Spalding, the maker of the new ball, has announced that the league's switch back to leather prompted the company to let fans get a refund of $115 for each new ball -- $100 for the ball itself and $15 for taxes and shipping back to the company.

Spalding also produces the leather ball that the league will again use on Jan. 1. The company vows to work with the league to develop the best ball going forward. And given the reaction regarding a change in
basketballs this season, NBA commissioner David Stern said
Wednesday players will have a say in any future changes.

"We would like to work with our players and Spalding to come up
with the perfect ball," Stern said. "Our players have played with
a synthetic through high school. They played with a synthetic in
college, yet, this synthetic, they are unhappy with it."

Stern said he didn't expect all the criticism the new ball
received, but on Monday he announced the league would return to
using a leather ball on Jan. 1.

"The response to the reintroduction of the ball as of January 1
has been overwhelmingly positive," Stern said. "We did something
right this year for a change."

Stern said the league would have returned to the leather ball
sooner, but had to make sure there were enough available and that
they were broken in properly for game conditions.

Stern, speaking at a news conference before the Memphis
Grizzlies hosted the Portland Trail Blazers, also addressed
ownership questions about the Grizzlies.

Last week, the NBA issued a statement that appeared critical of
the perspective ownership group headed by real estate developer
Brian Davis and his former Duke teammate and NBA veteran, Christian
Laettner. The league emphasized that they had not received the
group's application to purchase majority owner Michael Heisley's
share of the team.

Stern said the NBA is waiting to see if Davis' group comes
forward with the financing and proper documentation for the
application. The viability of the offer came under question last
week after the league's statement.

"I think what happened was there was some sense in the public
sphere that the guys at the NBA were holding it up, and that wasn't
the case," Stern said.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.