Learn How Alexander City Helped Out In The NBA Finals


UPDATE: This story is written by Tyler Cook from Alabama NewsCenter.  Learn more at:  http://alabamanewscenter.com/

Plenty of 3-point shots swished through nets and dunks rattled rims during this year’s NBA Finals, won last week by the Golden State Warriors. Those electrifying plays – and for that matter, every other play in the series – all have something in common.

The basketballs used in the finals and all NBA games were inspected, tested in and distributed from Alexander City, Alabama.

Spalding is one of the major sponsors of the National Basketball Association and the Women’s National Basketball Association. The company supplies the NBA and WNBA with their basketballs. Every practice and game ball the NBA and the WNBA use makes a stop in Alexander City. Spalding is owned by Russell Brands, based in Bowling Green, Ky. Russell Corp., founded by Benjamin Russell in Alexander City, became Russell Brands.

The basketballs start their journey to Alabama from overseas where they are made. They are then sent to the Spalding distribution center in Alexander City. This is where they are tested and inspected to ensure they are playable.

“The inspection procedure takes about one to two weeks before we distribute,” said Jerry Hu, senior director of product development for Spalding.

Product development and marketing teams from Washington, D.C., and from Bowling Green travel to and from Alexander City to help with inspections, he said.

A thorough process

Numerous things are inspected, like each ball’s weight, circumference, air pressure, cosmetics and even its rebound – the height at which the ball bounces from a certain dropping point, Hu said. This is the start of the “breaking in” process. Players do the majority of the breaking in while playing, but the testing gets the ball rolling.

Breaking in a basketball basically means expanding the leather it’s made of and making the ball softer to handle. Dribbling is an important part of the game, so the softer the ball, along with grip, the better the play.

“The balls you see on TV have been played with for about two to three months prior to being used in the games,” Hu says.

A basketball has no choice but to start off as brand new. That’s not what most basketball players want, because playing with a new basketball can be irritating. Spalding purposefully starts to break in the balls before distributing them in bulk orders to the various teams.

Durability testing and mechanically bouncing the balls on a hardwood surface an average of 50 bounces per ball take place toward the end of the testing process at Alexander City. A good measure of durability is an average of 20,000 bounces, Hu said.

The balls are also detailed at the factory, labeling “Spalding” in bold on the leather. Along with the company logo, labels like the NBA logo, dimensions of the ball and NBA team names are lased onto the ball. For basketballs the professionals use, the signature of the commissioner of the NBA, Adam Silver, is written onto the ball.

After passing Spalding’s “Perfect Basketball” inspection, the balls are sent to NBA teams for practice in the late summer. Each team receives 72 balls per order with the team name on the ball, said Hu.

Players will use this time to get the balls to reach a playable point before reaching the spotlight, where the balls will be dribbled and shot and rebounded in NBA games.


Sunday Discussion: Why I Support A Space Jam 2 Movie

Geek Alabama Discussion

Who remembers the first Space Jam movie?  The movie starred Michael Jordan as he and the Looney Tunes played as the Toon Squad in a match against The Monstars on a basketball court in Tune Land.  The Monstars came from a place called Moron Mountain, and if The Monstars won, Michael Jordan was destined for a lifetime of shame at that rundown amusement park.  Since this was a family friendly film, you knew that the Toon Squad would win, and Michael Jordan returned to the NBA.

During filming of the first Space Jam movie, parts of the movie was filmed at the Hoover Met in Birmingham, where the Birmingham Barons was playing before they moved to Regions Field.  So yes, Space Jam does have a Alabama connection.  And since I was a young kid while Michael Jordan was playing with the Barons, I loved seeing Space Jam!  And the movie did very well down here in Alabama.  So to start off, if there is a Space Jam 2, I hope Warner Bros. will film part of the movie in Alabama once again.  There are plenty of places in Alabama where filming can be done!

In late February, several websites reported that a squeal to the 1996 movie was happening and LeBron James would star in the movie.  Later, the reports were retracted and people close to LeBron said the reports were not true.  The first report came from Deadline, which is a very reliable source for Hollywood news.  Later, LeBron said he loved the first Space Jam and he would love to star in a Space Jam 2, if he was chosen to star in the film.  So for now, we are left to speculate if a Space Jam 2 movie is going to happen.  So in this Sunday Discussion Post, I am going to explain why a Space Jam 2 movie would be good for Warner Bros. and kids and families everywhere!

Let’s start with the obvious.  Family Friendly films are doing very well in the movie theaters.  The last big family friendly movie, The Lego Movie, was animated by Warner Animation Group and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures.  So, Warner Bros. is wanting to capitalize on the movies that are good for the entire family.  When Space Jam came out back in 1996, many kids nagged their parents to go see the movie.  And I loved the Space Jam movie!  These days, the movies that make the most money at the box office, are the ones that are oriented for a family.

Another reason, the Looney Tunes are still popular today.  You still see Looney Tunes reruns on Cartoon Network, and Tiny Toon Adventures on the Hub Network.  If the Looney Tunes were not popular today, your only option to see the classic cartoons would be online or on DVD.  Warner Bros. believes the Looney Tunes in a movie would bring families out to see the movie in theaters.  Yes, the last movie to feature the Looney Tunes back in 2003,  Looney Tunes: Back In Action, did not do too well, and the studio lost over $10 million on that movie.  But a Space Jam 2 would interest many people, and it’s because of this reason, the NBA!

The NBA is more popular than ever.  There are many stars playing in the game, and having a popular star like LeBron James in a Space Jam 2, would drum up a lot of interest.  And in our social media world, many people would be talking about Space Jam 2 on Twitter, Facebook, and other sites, no matter if the movie was good or bad.  So I hope Space Jam 2 happens.  And if it is made and released, I will go out and see it.  Because it would be a good family friendly film, and the theaters needs more good movies that the entire family would enjoy!

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