Move over Spalding, the ball is back in Wilson’s court. Puns aside, the Wilson Sports Company is resuming it’s relationship with the NBA for the 2021-2022 season. The Wilson partnership dates back to 1946 and remained in place for 37 years until replaced by Spalding in 1983.
“This partnership with Wilson returns us to our roots as we plan for the future,” said Salvatore LaRocca, NBA President, Global Partnerships in a press release. “We were partners for 37 seasons dating back to when Wilson manufactured the first official NBA basketballs in 1946, and we look forward to growing the game of basketball together.”
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the NBA’s 2020-2021 season has been cancelled, although some fans are encouraged by the recent news that Lakers have been allowed to resume practice.
According to Sports Illustrated writer Ben Pickman in his article Wilson to Produce NBA game Balls Starting in 2021-2022 Season, “while Wilson is the official game ball of the NCAA tournament, colleges across the NCAA play with a wide variety of basketball brands. The NCAA rulebook notes that a game ball ‘shall be spherical. Spherical shall be defined as a round body whose surface at all points is equidistant from the center except at the approved black rubber ribs (channels and/or seams).’”
Sources cite that the split from Spalding was mutually agreed upon and that there will not be change in production specification or materials, however, a player advisory board will be formed to potentially offer suggestions.
“Our commitment to growing the game of basketball on the global stage is at the heart of Wilson and our new partnership with the NBA,” said Kevin Murphy, General Manager, Wilson Basketball. “Our passion for this game and the league runs incredibly deep, as does our history with it. And as we start this new chapter in the game, our focus and energy will be on supporting the league and the players, coaches and fans with the most advanced, high-performance game basketballs possible.”
The new multiyear global partnership will include the NBA, Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA), NBA G League, NBA 2K League, and Basketball Africa League.
Both companies have their roots in Chicago. Wilson, based in the United States, is now a subsidiary of Amer Sports, a Finnish based sporting goods corporation.
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