“My biggest thing is getting comfortable with that basketball. That’s one of my biggest problems and it’s kind of ironic, because it’s a basketball. But it’s different than a college basketball,” Miami Heat rookie point guard Shabazz Napier told the Associated Press.
To many this excuse is laughable; I mean how different could a basketball be, right? Like changes in court size and three-point line distance, aspects of NCAA basketball are different. One of these differences is the ball.
“The funny thing is, I never really touched an NBA ball until I left school. I told myself I never wanted to. I felt like it was superstitious, like something bad was going to happen, like I had to earn it. I never touched it and it’s definitely different. This ball is leather and the biggest thing for me now is getting comfortable with it,” Napier said in an interview with AP.
While both NCAA and NBA basketballs measure the same circumference, 29.5 inches, the materials are significantly different.
NBA basketballs are made of leather, while NCAA balls are made from pebbled rubber. The difference is a significant reduction of ball control as the rubber ball is more easily gripped and spun on the hardwood.
Fellow Heat rookie Tyler Johnson attests to the difficultly of adjusting to the new ball: “It is different, especially coming out of college. A lot of times, if the basketball gets wet, it gets slippery. Here, you get your hands wet to make it stick. It’s slippery on its own. It takes a little while to get that feel for it. It is a little bit different but you kind of forget about it after a while.”
Heat fans hope Napier can “forget” about the difference in the ball and improve on his dreadful Summer League showing.
Only time will tell, the Heat’s first opportunity to see Napier’s improvement will be October 4th in their first preseason game against the New Orleans Pelicans.
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