Summary:

  • Takes time to break in
  • Too slick right out of the box
  • Full leather so lasts longer than any ball
  • Great handling once you get used to it
  • Best ball for shooting

This is probably going to come as a surprise to you but there are several downsides to buying the official Spalding NBA leather basketball. First of all it’s rather expensive. It’s made entirely out of leather and the insides are made to last as well. This also explains the difference in bounce of a $20 ball and this baby. Second, at first, it’s not that easy to handle. Many players don’t like the feel of this ball at all.

A new composite ball will give you much better grip and feel like it’s easier to control. The leather ball takes a lot of time to break in. Don’t expect the guys in your game to immediately prefer this ball when they are used to a composite ball. If you have the time to break it in though, the official game ball is without a doubt one of the best.

The ball has a few distinct advantages over others. Because it is entirely made out of leather it behaves slightly differently. At first the grip is horrible but over time, it will develop untill it’s the only ball you want to play with.

The leather is also very soft to the touch. Personally I have quite dry skin and my fingertips and even palms sometimes start chafing or become extremely dry after game practice. Not so, with the full leather official ball. I can keep dribbling and shooting to my hearts content without ever needing to apply lotion to my hands or whatever. I can easily play and practice as many times as I like. This is a big difference with cheaper balls.

After breaking in the ball it handles very well but more importantly you will love shooting with this ball. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if my shooting % was 3-5 higher when using the full leather ball. It doesn’t bounce as hard on the rim and stays closer. So when my shot isn’t a perfect shot there is a higher number of them that still drops through. Needless to say that helps me out a little bit. 3-5% may not sound like a lot but when you are shooting hundreds of times a week. After a year, it’s thousands of points that you did make.

Did you ever play with an official NBA Game Ball, how did you like it?

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  • grammieo Mar 05, 2014 @ 10:47 am
    I've never played with one, but I will look for a leather one when my Grandson starts to play for sure. Thanks for a great review!
  • Merrci Mar 05, 2014 @ 10:09 am
    What a great review! Congrats on Review of the Day. It is interesting that while you list the cons the pros of it won you over. I don't play basketball, but I'd go for leather!
  • RenaissanceWoman2010 Mar 05, 2014 @ 9:12 am
    I could use a new basketball. Appreciated your honest perspective and review. I haven't had a leather ball in a long time.
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