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Gilbert Doesn't Want to Switch Balls

Poor David Stern. Switching back to the leather basketball was supposed to make everybody happy. Gilbert Arenas? Not necessarily happy.

"It's so funny because I touch the old ball and I'm like 'Man, what is this?' Gil said last night. "You know, it's so funny, we all complained about the new ball and then I played with the old ball and I'm like, 'Oh man, oh this is gonna be a disaster.' This is gonna be a disaster."

Disaster. That's just what Sterno was looking for.

Gil talked about the change for ages last night. It's been on his mind, apparently.

"Truthfully I was one of the first players that complained, and then you get used to it," he said. "Now, it's like, now we gotta get used to another ball in the middle of the season. If they were gonna give it back, they should have just waited till the end of the season. You know, but we complained, we got what we wanted for the moment, and we'll see what happens next season.

Gil and the new ball, in happier times. (Ed Betz - AP)

"Truthfully, I was shooting with the leather, it's two different balls," he continued. "One, the new ball is a shooter's ball, it's a shooters ball. Like, the stuff that rolls in is not going to do that with the old ball. You can tell, like, bounce passes, people say it dies? Ok, it dies, but I'd rather have it dying than sliding and skidding across the floor. There's little stuff people don't pay attention to, like when you're driving the lane, you don't really see...that 'lost ball' like you did in the past.

"But I don't want nobody to have a question mark on my scoring ability with the new ball compared to the old one. Like, all the greats played with it. Records have been broken with the old ball. Gimme the old ball. I'd rather have my records in the leather, I don't want nobody to say, 'Oh, they switched the ball and it was for shooters, and that's the only reason.'...Nah. Gimme the old ball. Same ones M.J., everyone, the greats had...."

Gil also said that his range extends to about half-court with the new ball. He said he shoots around from halfcourt before games and has already made about 12 half-courters this season. Shooting is just easier with the new ball, he said.

"Like I was telling some of my teammates, when I shoot it I can use my whole hand," he explained. "With that old leather sometimes it would slip out in the middle of your shot. But you know what, at the end of the day you've been playing with something for six years, seven years, 12 years, you don't want to change. It's just like somebody, coach coming in here and saying yeah, you know, practice is at 8:30. We're like, 'What? Wait, no, practice is at 11.' You know? Instead of saying, 'Well, you know, if we practice at 8:30 and we leave here at 9:30 then we have the rest of the day to ourselves,' we're like, 'No, I don't want to get up at 8:30.' You know, no one likes change, and that's all it is.

"I like it now. I think if you ask everybody and said, 'Would you rather go to the new ball now or go to the new ball at the end of the season?' I think a handful would say now but I think the majority would say, 'Wait till the end of the season, since we got used to it.'

"Like, it's just so different, it's hard to explain unless you've been messing around with the ball. Like bank shots, with the old ball I would never try a bank shot, because it comes off the glass so, so different. It's gonna change the way you shoot the ball, yeah, by far, especially around the backboard. Because one sticks. So you can spin it. Like if this was the backboard [gesturing at dry erase board] I can spin it on this [far] side of the rim, I can spin it there and make it come back this way. You know, spin it, just stick on that glass and make it come back this way. We do it in practice, we play around, we do it for money. We spin it on that side of the rim and make it come back this way. That old ball wouldn't even get close to that backboard. You spin it, it just slides off. It's funny. We try all kind of stuff.

"But yeah, we're getting it back. We're getting it back. We'll see. But it's gonna look funny, though. I'm trying to tell you. It's gonna look ugly out there."

Seriously, it would be among the greatest moments in sports history if the players association now launched an unfair labor practices suit against the league, complaining that it's too hard for players to have to adjust to a new ball mid-season. C'mon, Billy Hunter. Make it happen.

(More reaction: a sports consultant calls it "a disaster" for Spalding, which offers refunds to customers. Eddie Jordan wants the Wiz bringing leather balls into their hotel rooms so they can get reacquainted. Steve Nash agrees with Gil that "It's going to be another arduous time for us to adjust back." Jason Kidd and Quentin Richardson are happy to go back, and so is Rick Carlisle, who compares the new ball to wearing a plastic jacket. And PETA offers hand cream to the injured NBA stars.)

By Dan Steinberg  |  December 14, 2006; 10:17 AM ET
Categories:  Wizards  
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"Gilbert Doesn't Want to Switch Balls"?

Can't really blame the guy.

You need some *serious* cojones for that.

I'm glad to see that Eddie Jordan is making sure players are spending time in their hotel rooms getting reacquainted with their old balls. Hopefully he can get room service to distribute some of the PETA hand cream to facilitate this process.


Posted by: bc | December 14, 2006 12:01 PM | Report abuse

OK, now we've got Agent Zero's thoughts.

What about the DC United goalkeeping corps? Or Bobby Boswell?

Posted by: Kim | December 14, 2006 12:43 PM | Report abuse

This is gonna take a lot of reacquaintancing ball-fondling. It's like high school PE class all over again!

Posted by: Agent_Torpor | December 14, 2006 1:15 PM | Report abuse

I know there is a good Eddie Griffin and ball handling joke out there somewhere.

Posted by: Marc | December 14, 2006 2:03 PM | Report abuse

"Gilbert Doesn't Want to Switch Balls"
Now THAT's funny. Reads like a headline from The Onion.

Posted by: OC | December 14, 2006 2:14 PM | Report abuse

switching balls sound painful *shudder*

Posted by: tamland, brick | December 14, 2006 2:27 PM | Report abuse

The Sports Bog is now my first port of call when I want to know all about what my favorite NBA stars think about their balls feel.

Posted by: ouij | December 14, 2006 4:11 PM | Report abuse

should have interviewed brenda haywood.

Timid Wizards Center Haywood Excited To Be Getting Some New Balls

it practically writes itself.

Posted by: bryc3 | December 14, 2006 4:30 PM | Report abuse

What is funny is reading that Stern will consult with the players in the future on any ball change. Why didn't he do that in the first place as the players are a somewhat big part (ha ha) of the NBA!!

Posted by: Kevin | December 14, 2006 5:58 PM | Report abuse

"That's my baby! That's my boo!"
-Brenda Haywood

Posted by: Agent_Torpor | December 14, 2006 6:01 PM | Report abuse

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