kuraray


News Releases 2006

Man-made leather CLARINO adopted for the new NBA Official Game Ball
• "bj League" in Japan adopts same-spec ball
• Innovative design with 2 interlocking panels

October 12, 2006
Kuraray Co., Ltd.

Spalding's basketball, made with CLARINO man-made leather by Kuraray Co., Ltd., has been adopted as the official game ball ("Game Ball" hereafter) of the National Basketball Association (the professional basketball league in the U.S., "NBA" hereafter), which has changed its Game Ball for the first time in 35 years. This new Game Ball will be used for the NBA's 2006–07 season, which will start on October 31.

The first man-made leather ball in the NBA/Innovative design with 2 interlocking panels

In the 60-year history since the NBA's foundation in 1946, this is the first time that a man-made material other than natural leather has been used for the Game Ball. And this is only the second time that the Game Ball has been changed in 35 years, the first being in 1970 when a 4-panel ball was replaced by an 8-panel ball.

Compared to natural leather, the CLARINO material used for the new Game Ball achieves high grip and control capability due to its comfortable fit in one's hand and its nonskid characteristics against moisture such as sweat. The new ball does not need the "break-in" process carried out before the game and is consistent from ball to ball.

Another feature of the new Game Ball is that it has adopted new technology-interlocking cross-panel design-that is comprised of two propeller-shaped panels that interlock rather than the eight oval panels found on traditional basketballs. This provides better design, grip, handling and so forth than the traditional balls.

Kuraray has worked with Spalding, the official supplier of the NBA Game Ball, on the development and improvement of man-made leather for basketballs for the past 20 years. Spalding has already adopted CLARINO man-made leather for the official game balls of the NBADL (National Basketball Association Development League) and the WNBA (Women's National Basketball Association), and it was used for the game balls for the 2006 NBA All-Star Game held in Houston, Texas.

Spalding, which has been the official supplier of the Game Ball since 1983, will continue to produce all the balls for NBA practice, exhibitions, games and international competition. It also holds the exclusive right to produce and sell a complete lineup of NBA and team-identified balls in all sizes.

Adopted also for the bj League in Japan

The "bj League" Japanese professional basketball league has adopted the same-spec ball as their official game ball for the 2006-2007 season, which will start on November 4. The balls will be supplied to the bj League through a distribution system supported by a partnership agreement between Spalding, Itochu Fashion System Co., Ltd. (the master licensee for "SPALDING" since last season) and T.M. Sports Corporation, the official importer and sales representative in Japan for the game balls.

  • (*) Kuraray will give away one "bj League" game ball at the end of every bj League game during its 2006–2007 season. (1 game ball per game for 160 games)

NBA new official Game Ball

Features
  • High grip and control
  • No "break-in" process necessary
  • Consistency from ball to ball
  • New production process with two propeller-shaped interlocking panels
    (vs. conventional 8 panels)
Manufactured by SPALDING
Distributor in Japan T.M. Sports Corporation (Takemae)
Price in Japan ¥11,550 (with tax)
Release in Japan November 2006
Contact office in Japan for
information about this ball
T.M. Sports Cooperation Sales Dept.
TEL: +81-3-3863-5725

(Reference)

*1 Man-made leather: CLARINO
Developed as an alternative material for natural leather, with interlacing bundles of micro fibers integrated with continuous and porous polyurethane. It has over 40 years of history since it was first sold for footwear applications in 1965. CLARINO is used extensively in product lines that reflect all kinds of natural leather, including soft grain, suede and nubuck types. In addition, its quality has been highly recognized throughout the fashion industry. It is the top brand in the man-made leather industry and holds more than a 70% market share in the Japanese school backpack applications business. As a ball material, it is also used for the international official game volleyball (manufactured by Mikasa).
*2 Spalding
As a Division of Russell Corporation, the Spalding Group consists of three business units: Spalding in Springfield, MA; American Athletic, Inc. (AAI) in Jefferson, IA; and Huffy Sports in Sussex, WI. The three companies, collectively, are now the largest basketball equipment supplier in the world. Spalding is the official supplier of basketballs for the NBA and WNBA, of backboards for the NBA and NCAA, of volleyballs for the King of the Beach Volleyball Tour, soccer balls for the Major Indoor Soccer League (MISL) and footballs for the Arena Football League (AFL) and Pop Warner (a national association for youth football and cheerleading teams in the U.S.).
*3 NBA
The U.S. professional basketball league. Founded in 1946, the NBA is a global basketball league that features 30 teams in the U.S. and Canada with 82 international players from 36 countries and regions in the 2005–06 season. The NBA eclipsed its attendance records for the third consecutive season, and it distributed more than 800 games to NBA fans outside the U.S., including 44,000 hours of programming to 215 countries and territories in 43 languages. Its official website,(http://www.nba.com) has sections in 9 foreign languages, including Japanese, and one-half of the visitors who access the page are from outside the U.S.
*4 bj League
The first professional basketball league in Japan. In August 2004, the Niigata and Saitama teams left the Japan League Organization to become professional teams, and teams from Sendai, Tokyo, Osaka and Oita then joined them to start the first professional basketball league in Japan. The first regular season started with these 6 teams in November 2005. Each team played the other eight times for a total of 40 games per opponent with 120 games across the league. Players are selected during joint tryouts; each team obtains players through drafts, as well as through individual tryouts at each team. For the 2006-2007 season, which commences on November 4, 2006, two more new teams, from Toyama and Kagawa, will join the league making for an 8-team league.