Home Basketball The Basketball of the NBA: The Wilson Evolution Game Ball

The Basketball of the NBA: The Wilson Evolution Game Ball

Basketball, a sport loved by millions around the world, showcases athleticism, skill, and teamwork. In the NBA, the pinnacle of professional basketball, players compete with the finest equipment to deliver breathtaking performances on the court. Among the essential pieces of equipment, the basketball itself plays a crucial role in shaping the game’s dynamics. Over the years, the NBA has used various brands of basketballs, but since the 2020-2021 season, the league has returned to its roots, partnering with Wilson Sporting Goods Co. to use the iconic Wilson Evolution Game Ball. In this article, we will delve into the history of the NBA basketball, explore the reasons behind the return to Wilson, and examine the features that make the Wilson Evolution Game Ball the official choice of the NBA.


1. A Brief History of the NBA Basketball

The NBA has a long and storied history that spans over several decades, and its choice of basketball has evolved over time. Since its inception in 1946, the NBA has experimented with different brands and models of basketballs, seeking the perfect balance between performance, durability, and player preference.


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The Spalding Era:

For the majority of its existence, the NBA used basketballs manufactured by Spalding, a prominent sports equipment company. The association with Spalding began in the 1983-1984 season, and the NBA used various versions of Spalding basketballs throughout the years. The most recognizable and iconic Spalding model used by the NBA was the Spalding Official NBA Game Ball, which featured the company’s signature full-grain leather construction and a distinctive pebbled surface.

2. The Switch to Wilson Sporting Goods Co.

In 2020, the NBA announced a significant change by switching its official game ball provider from Spalding back to Wilson Sporting Goods Co. The decision to return to Wilson was a nod to the league’s history and heritage, as Wilson had a long-standing relationship with the NBA in its early years.

A. A Nod to History:

Wilson was the official basketball supplier to the NBA during its formative years from 1946 to 1983. During this time, the NBA used Wilson basketballs in the infancy of professional basketball, and the brand became synonymous with the league. By returning to Wilson, the NBA sought to pay homage to its roots and evoke a sense of nostalgia among fans and players alike.

B. Performance and Innovation:

Apart from the historical connection, the NBA’s decision to partner with Wilson once again was driven by the brand’s commitment to innovation and performance. The Wilson Evolution Game Ball, in particular, impressed the NBA with its advanced features designed to enhance player performance and overall gameplay.

3. The Wilson Evolution Game Ball

The Wilson Evolution Game Ball is a product of cutting-edge technology and meticulous design, making it a perfect choice for the NBA’s professional competition. Let’s explore the key features that set the Wilson Evolution Game Ball apart:

A. Enhanced Grip and Feel:

The surface of the Wilson Evolution Game Ball is covered in Evo Microfiber Composite Leather, which provides exceptional grip and a comfortable feel for players. The ball’s unique pebbled pattern ensures that players can maintain better control during dribbling, passing, and shooting, even in high-intensity game situations.

B. Cushion Core Technology:

The Wilson Evolution Game Ball boasts Cushion Core Technology, which provides players with a soft feel upon catching the ball, reducing hand fatigue during gameplay. This technology also contributes to better ball control and enhanced shooting accuracy, making it a favorite among players.

C. Superior Durability:

With its sturdy construction, the Wilson Evolution Game Ball offers exceptional durability, allowing it to withstand the rigors of NBA-level play. This durability ensures that the ball retains its shape and performance throughout a demanding season of intense competition.

D. Consistency in Performance:

Consistency in ball performance is crucial for professional players who rely on muscle memory and precise movements. The Wilson Evolution Game Ball is renowned for its consistent bounce and flight trajectory, ensuring that players can anticipate and adapt to the ball’s movements with ease.

4. Player Feedback and Reception

The return of the Wilson Evolution Game Ball to the NBA was met with mixed reactions from players and fans alike. While some players welcomed the change, appreciating the brand’s history and innovative features, others expressed nostalgia for the Spalding Official NBA Game Ball, which had been an integral part of the NBA for decades.

A. Positive Player Feedback:

Many NBA players embraced the Wilson Evolution Game Ball, lauding its grip, feel, and overall performance. The ball’s enhanced grip received particular praise, as it allowed players to execute intricate moves and maneuvers with confidence. Several players also highlighted the ball’s consistency, which helped improve their shooting accuracy and passing precision.

B. Nostalgia for Spalding:

On the other hand, some players expressed sentimental attachment to the Spalding basketball, which had been a fixture in the NBA for generations. The Spalding Official NBA Game Ball held significant sentimental value for veteran players who had grown up playing with it throughout their careers.

Why did the NBA stop using Spalding?

The NBA had not officially stated why they stopped using Spalding basketballs after the 2020-2021 season. However, there were several reports and speculations that might have contributed to this decision:

1. Partnership Agreement:

The NBA’s decision to switch basketball suppliers could have been a result of the expiration of the partnership agreement with Spalding. Contracts between sports leagues and equipment manufacturers typically have a duration, and when these agreements end, the league might explore new opportunities and partnerships.

2. Performance and Player Feedback:

There were occasional reports of players expressing concerns about the performance and consistency of the Spalding Official NBA Game Ball. Some players might have preferred other basketballs or raised issues with the quality and feel of the Spalding ball. Player feedback is vital to ensuring that the basketball used in the league meets the demands and preferences of the players.

3. Nostalgia and Heritage:

While some players and fans may have embraced the change, others could have been attached to the historical significance of the Spalding Official NBA Game Ball, which had been used in the league for many decades. The NBA’s decision to switch to a different basketball could have caused some sentimentality among those who grew up with the Spalding ball.

4. New Partnership Opportunities:

It’s possible that Wilson Sporting Goods Co. presented a compelling proposal that made the NBA consider a new partnership. Wilson’s history with the NBA and their advancements in basketball technology might have made them an attractive option for the league.

5. Financial Considerations:

The financial aspects of such a decision cannot be overlooked. The deal between the NBA and Wilson might have offered better terms or financial incentives, making it a more appealing choice for the league.

It’s important to note that the exact reasons behind the NBA’s decision to switch from Spalding to Wilson were not officially disclosed by the NBA or Spalding. As with many business decisions, several factors might have played a role in the switch, and the league likely considered what would be best for the players, the game, and its future. To get the most up-to-date and accurate information on this matter, it’s best to refer to official statements from the NBA or respective companies involved.


The choice of basketball used in the NBA is more than just a piece of equipment; it symbolizes the league’s identity, heritage, and commitment to excellence. After decades of association with Spalding, the NBA made a significant change by returning to its roots and partnering with Wilson Sporting Goods Co. to use the Wilson Evolution Game Ball as its official game ball.

The Wilson Evolution Game Ball brings together the best of innovation, performance, and durability, making it an ideal choice for professional basketball. With its enhanced grip, comfortable feel, and consistent performance, the Wilson Evolution Game Ball continues to be a favorite among NBA players, contributing to unforgettable moments on the court.

While some players may still hold a sentimental attachment to the Spalding Official NBA Game Ball, the return to Wilson signifies a recognition of the NBA’s history and a move towards embracing the future of the sport. As the NBA continues to evolve, the Wilson Evolution Game Ball stands as a testament to the game’s enduring spirit and dedication to excellence.


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