Reviews are mixed on the new game ball. Shaq has spoken out very loudly against the new ball and feels that it will make shooting percentages drop and turnovers increase. He reiterated the concerns of players earlier in the summer that when it gets wet, you can't control it.
“I think the new ball is terrible,” O’Neal said. “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.”
Two members of the Dallas Mavericks also have negative feedback on the new ball.
"They stink," guard Jason Terry said of the new ball. "I've worked out with it all summer long, and I've grown accustomed to losing the ball out of bounds a couple times. It's going to happen." The ball has the look and feel of an indoor-outdoor ball, Terry said. And he's not the only one who has had trouble holding onto it. "Dirk [Nowitzki] had two or three layups [in practice] and they just popped right out of his hands," Terry said. Nowitzki, one of the NBA's biggest stars, gave a succinct impression of the new ball: a thumb's-down signal.
Steve Nash, who probably handles the basketball more than most players also is not a fan of the new ball.
"It's very difficult for us," Nash said. "It's almost like you have to relearn how to make your plays because this ball sticks to your hand whereas the old ball slid in your hand nicely and it had a nice little touch off the floor and the backboard. This ball just grips the floor and grips the backboard so you have to change your game. "You make moves in traffic and the ball gets stuck in parts of your hands and your wrist where normally it slides and you get it back the way you want it. Now, even if it's in your hand, it sticks and you can't get rid of it sometimes. It's a really difficult ball to play with."
By most accounts, when dry, the ball is sticky, but when it gets wet, it is very slippery. So, whether your hands are wet or dry, there are issues with the new ball. Two of Nash's teammates, Bell and Marion both chimed in with less than happy feedback on the new ball.
It sucks," Suns guard Raja Bell said. "This ball isn't even a cousin of the one we played with. In every way, the ball is totally different. It is round and we've got to put it out of our minds. It's proven to be a streaky ball." "Everybody hates that ball," Shawn Marion said. "It seems like it's more for an outdoor ball than indoor. It doesn't even feel like a NBA ball."
However, not everyone hates the new ball. The Suns' Boris Diaw likes it and the first reports from the Celtics are a bit more positive. Pierce worked with the new balls over the summer and doesn't feel it will be that big a problem.
"I think the players are going to have to make an adjustment," said Pierce, who noted that the synthetic ball has a different grip than the traditional leather game balls the league has used in the past. "I've been playing with it all summer and at first you're kind of hesitant, you've been playing with [one ball] for so long, but that's the way it is and that's the way it's going to be. I've made the adjustment over the summer and I'm fine with it."
Another Celtic chiming in his opinion on the new ball is Delonte West. As would be expected from Delonte, he had a rather unusual comment.
"I've played with balls covered in mud that didn't have air in them," said West. "If it's got air in it, and you've got a rim, you should be able to shoot a basketball."
It should be interesting to see how the new ball works out as the season opens. I expect that if a player has a shooting slump or if they turn the ball over, it will be blamed on the new ball. We should see more players drying their hands between plays if indeed the ball is slicker when it gets wet. I am sure the League will be watching how it unfolds as the season begins. Discuss this topic on the Celtics Green Forums!