About Stern: Introduction of ball mishandled
|December 6th, 2006||#1|
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Stern: Introduction of ball mishandled info
NEW YORK - The NBA believes it has a better game ball, but commissioner David Stern has acknowledged he should have talked to the players before introducing it.
"Whether or not we did enough prior to it, we're actually, well, we think this ball has many of the attributes that Spalding says it has," Stern told the New York Times in a story posted on its Web site Tuesday. "It's an improvement in many ways. But if our players are unhappy with it, we have to analyze to the nth degree the cause of their unhappiness."
Stern said he will address the players' criticisms with Spalding, the ball manufacturer.
"Everything is on the table," he told the paper. "I'm not pleased, but I'm realistic. We've got to do the right thing here. And, of course, the right thing is to listen to our players. Whether it's a day late or not, we're dealing with this."
The lack of player input about the new ball prompted one of the two unfair labor practice charges the union filed with the National Labor Relations Board late last week.
"In the summertime, they sent us a ball," Houston guard Rafer Alston said Tuesday. "They said, 'The ball's here. This is what we're going to use.' They sent one to every player. It never said anything. There was never a reason why or anything."
Players have complained about the ball, changed from leather to a microfiber composite, since training camp began. They argue the ball bounces differently than the old one, both off the floor and the rim. The new synthetic material is more sticky when it's dry, but players say it's more slippery when wet - which the league and Spalding deny.
Some of the league's biggest stars, from Shaquille O'Neal to LeBron James, have been among the most critical of the ball.
"You worry about that ball, and it kind of keeps you from doing what you have to do with it," Suns guard Raja Bell said. "I let that go. But I do think they should have probably asked guys. If you aren't going to ask the whole league, at least ask your superstars, the guys who make you the money."
Stern said he understands why the players feel as they do.
"I won't make a spirited defense with respect to the ball," Stern told the Times. "In hindsight, we could have done a better job.
"With respect to the ball, I take responsibility for that."