Engineering Basketball Flop

Posted on December 26, 2006  Comments (0)

Despite innovation, basketball maker loses grip on customers (newspaper broke the link so I removed it)

However, NBA players found many problems with the new ball, claiming that it caused finger cuts and friction burns. More important, they complained of control problems because of inconsistent bouncing by the new ball, its tendency to stick to the floor and backboards when dry, and the difficulty in gripping it when wet.

Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, asked researchers at the University of Texas in Arlington to compare the performances of both the synthetic and leather balls. Their investigation found that the microfiber composite ball did not bounce as high as the leather design and that it bounced 30 percent more erratically.

The investigators also used silicon sheets to replicate the surface of a player’s hands as they conducted frictional tests on the balls. The new balls were found to be slippery even when slightly moistened, whereas the leather balls actually became tackier when wet, making them easier to grip.

These results are not surprising because the synthetic covering is not as moisture absorbent as leather. These findings seemed to confirm the players’ concerns about the new ball.

Related: NBA to ditch new ball, return to oldThe Science of the Football SwerveBaseball Pitch Designed in the Lab

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