NBA basketballs have been synonymous with the color orange for decades. However, the choice of this vibrant hue wasn’t merely an aesthetic decision. It was driven by a practical reason—visibility. Let’s dive in to find details.
The Logic Behind NBA Basketball Color: Why Orange?
Historically, basketballs were brown, but it was Butler University basketball coach Tony Hinkle who recognized the need for a change. Hinkle noticed that both players and fans struggled to see the ball clearly during games. Determined to address this issue, he collaborated with renowned sporting goods manufacturer Spalding to develop a basketball that would remain visible even in fast-paced action. After careful consideration, Hinkle settled on the color orange as the optimal choice.
The introduction of orange basketballs took place during a significant event in basketball history—the 1958 NCAA Finals held in Louisville, Kentucky. From that point forward, the orange basketball became the standard across the sport. Its distinctive color quickly became iconic, making it easily recognizable even on television, the primary medium through which most fans experience the game.
However, it’s worth noting that the American Basketball Association (ABA) followed a different path regarding basketball color. Not until the merger between the ABA and the NBA in 1976 did the ABA’s red-white-blue basketballs become a part of NBA lore. These unique basketballs still make occasional appearances during special NBA events, such as the Three-Point Contest during All-Star Weekends, where they are used as money balls.
The Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) has its own distinct approach to basketball design. Since its inception in 1996, WNBA basketballs have featured a combination of orange and oatmeal-colored panels. This departure from the NBA’s standard was explained by the late David Stern, former NBA Commissioner, who humorously remarked, “The last thing the world needed was another orange basketball.”
The color of a basketball may seem like a minor detail, but it plays a crucial role in enhancing visibility and ensuring that the game can be enjoyed by players and fans alike. Read More: Watch Kid Sitting Courtside Trash LeBron James For Flopping During Game
From Tony Hinkle’s pioneering initiative to the enduring legacy of the orange basketball, this choice has become an integral part of the basketball experience. So, the next time you watch a game and see that unmistakable orange sphere soaring through the air, remember the practical origins behind its vibrant hue.