original NBA ball    New NBA ball Will the real NBA ball please bounce forward?
Speaking from Paris, France, King David I...er, NBA Commissioner David Stern admitted two important things.  First, that they had ordered new rigorous tests of the new ball in the face of mounting widespread complaints. Second, that if the tests confirm what people have compkained about, they'd revert to using the old ball. 

I took a small amount of kidding for even mentioning any dissatisfaction with the new ball originally, but it looks like I may have been ahead of the curve for once. 

What bothers me is, why wasn't this "extensive testing" done before foisting the new ball on the NBA?  If Stern and Co. were so certain of previous results, why the public admission that reverting to the old ball was possible?  Simple. The wear and tear on the new balls mean more of them will be used in game conditions, which means more balls purchased from Spaulding. 

It seems the NBA was the only pro sport still using leather balls, and it's a safe bet this was costing Spaulding money to maintain two different manufacturing processes.  Streamlining the process AND selling more balls to the NBA sounds like a good deal for Spaulding. All they had to do was talk the NBA into going along with the idea.  So they've been lobbying heavily for two years to make this work, giving the hard sell.  Last year, the NBDL and the NBA All-Star Game used the balls.  But this hardly qualifies as "rigorous testing".  The only time someone raises a sweat at the All-Star Game is during repeated running dunks.  It's hardly a defensive challenge.  As far as the NBDL goes, there's a reason these guys aren't playing in the NBA.  So much for rigorous testing.

Stern is caught in the middle.  He can't come right out and say the new ball sucks and they're going to revert to the old ball or he'll tick Spaulding off.  He can't refuse to listen to ever more widespread criticism, not only from players, but coaches as well, all of who make the same complaints:  when wet, the ball is more slippery, and they wear out faster.

Thus, his middle of the road approach. The new tests will give him data to encourage Spaulding to "try again next season", and in the meantime, the new balls are tossed in favor of the old.  But the new tests really better include current NBA players from various teams and some of the coaches as well.  These are the people who have to use the product, let them test it to their specifications.  Prove their case, and get rid of the new ball.  If the tests prove no real difference, then the new ball stays.

The NBA WILL have a ball this season...it's just a question of which one.