Spalding on Why NBA Partnership Is Ending After Nearly 40 Years and What's Next

A rep for the sports equipment brand has detailed what led up to the mutual decision for the 2020/2021 season to be the longtime partners' final run together.


Image via Getty/Gary Bassing/NBAE


In June of this year, Spalding announced the release of the basketball equipment brand’s final run of official NBA game balls, marking the end of a decades-long era. 

The brand first became the official ball of the NBA in 1983, as well as the official ball for the WNBA in 1997. Now, with the brand still in partnership with a number of other leagues and sports associations worldwide, Spalding Vice President and General Manager Matt Murphy has detailed what led up to the end of the partnership.

“As an NBA partner, it has been our privilege to have Spalding played by the greatest athletes in the world,” Murphy recently told Complex’s Aria Hughes via email. “Over several months in late 2019 and early 2020, Spalding and the NBA worked earnestly on a new, go-forward partnership. However, we simply could not agree on terms, and it was mutually agreed that the 2020-2021 season would be our last.”

Asked what this will mean for the brand moving forward, Murphy explained that the focus will remain on “serving athletes through product leadership that moves the game forward.” This year alone, Murphy added, Spalding has a number of projects on the horizon:

“Our approach is rooted in elevating the game of every player by providing the best performing basketballs and hoops in the world. In 2021 alone we will launch a revamped TF basketball line built around performance game balls, an EZ set up Portable Hoop we named Momentous that installs in under 30 minutes, and the first driveway version of the elite Arena Renegade hoop found in professional and collegiate arenas.”

Also on Spalding’s agenda moving forward is to continue working with the Euroleague, FIBA, the NCAA, Pro-Ams, and a number of high school-level associations. Per Murphy, special attention is also being paid to towing the line between being a heritage brand and welcoming new fans.

“We will continue to invest in innovation that reinforces our leadership in the category, and we will continue to promote our brand as an authentic voice within basketball culture,” he told Complex.

For more on the final run of Spalding game balls, click here

Moving forward, Wilson is handling official game ball duties for the NBA.

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