The NBA has had one signature on its basketball for the last 30 years. But come Feb. 1, things will change and David Stern's signature will turn to new commissioner Adam Silver's.
And in fact, things are already starting to change. Via the New York Post's Tim Bontemps, some basketballs in circulation already have Silver's signature on them, like these at the Nets' practice facility.
This is the first ball I've seen with a Commissioner Adam Silver signature on it. pic.twitter.com/eSlS3cMJ9P— Tim Bontemps (@TimBontemps) December 19, 2013
Call it a soft opening, I guess.
Interesting thing though: Stern's signature was originally supposed to remain on the good old Spaldings through the rest of this season, but per Bloomberg News, the NBA changed their mind:
The NBA and Spalding, in an about-face, said official game balls will carry Adam Silver's signature beginning the day he succeeds David Stern, who is stepping down Feb. 1. Spalding, a part of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRK/A)'s Fruit of the Loom unit, had said game-used balls would carry Stern's signature for the entire 2013-14 season.
The company, which has made the official ball since the 1983-84 season, changed course after a Bloomberg News story on June 6 reported the league's signature piece of equipment would carry an outdated signature for much of next season, said Paul Sullivan, a senior vice president at Spalding.
“After that article came out we talked a lot more about the NBA,” Sullivan said in a telephone interview from company headquarters in Bowling Green, Kentucky. “We jumped through hoops making sure the NBA has Adam Silver balls that are broken in and ready for Feb. 1.”
Spalding has provided each NBA team with 72 Stern-signed basketballs for use this season, which begins Oct. 29. In December, the company will give each of the 30 clubs 36 -- half a season's worth -- of Silver-signed basketballs for use over the remainder of the schedule.
Two months is more than enough time for players to get the Silver-signed balls ready for game use, Sullivan said.
“The only way to break-in a leather game ball is by playing with it,” he said.
Sullivan said basketballs are put in what he called a “bounce machine” and checked 50 times for things like weight and rotation before they're sent to the teams.
So in order to break in the new balls, they're floating around practice facilities, it seems. And hey: Practice makes perfect.