From the Boston Globe’s Peter May.
Shaquille O’Neal doesn’t like it. Two-time Most Valuable Player Steve Nash isn’t crazy about it. Journeyman sub Mark Madsen has pledged to do everything “in my power” — however limited his sphere of influence may be — to block it.
But Dan Shannon loves it. “It’s very exciting,” he said.
O’Neal, Nash, and Madsen all play in the National Basketball Association, which, for the first time in 35 years, is introducing a new basketball for the upcoming season. O’Neal, Nash, and Madsen all like the old, leather ball better. Shannon is a spokesman for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. He has enthusiastically endorsed the new ball, a microfiber composite that, among other attributes, requires that no cows be killed to make it.
“We see this as a major victory,” Shannon said. “We have been corresponding with the NBA over the last few years and I am glad that they did the right thing. I’m pretty sure we had something to do with it, although they might not say it.”
To which NBA operations chief Stu Jackson said, “PETA had absolutely nothing to do with this. We have a better product.”
More than one NBA coach has suggested the new ball controversy will die a quick and painless death, much like the initial controversy last year over Stern’s mandated dress code. NBA players don’t like change; most everything about their working lives involves consistency and luxury, whether it’s shoes, clothes, travel, or per diem.
Said Rivers, “I think there’s a resistance to change in all of us. Whether it’s cheerleaders, a dress code, a new ball, whatever. People don’t like change. I just think that’s the way life is.”
PETA, meanwhile, has so embraced the new ball that it is celebrating by awarding two tickets to an NBA game, as well as a composite ball, to the winner of a contest sponsored on its website. Two lucky runners-up will get the new basketball.