What Happens To NBA Balls After The Game?

You watch a lot of NBA games but have you ever wondered what happens to the basketballs after a game?

You probably have a few guesses, and they’re correct. But the whole truth is.

NBA basketballs are reused at least 3-5 games or more. Aside from being reused, they can also be given away to fans, kept by players, or they could be auctioned off.

So, if you’re curious about how many balls do NBA teams use, we have all the answers below.

What Happens to NBA Balls After the Game?

We mostly take basketballs for granted.

But when they’re used by NBA legends, fans would gladly even shell out cash just to get them.

But what exactly happens to NBA balls after a game? There are actually different ways they could end up. Let’s find out each one of them:

1. They reuse them

Believe it or not, NBA balls are reused. Contrary to what people might think, the league doesn’t use new balls each game.

Just think about it, why would they throw away a perfectly good ball after just a game?

A basketball can last anywhere from 1-3 years for the average hooper. The more you play in it, the faster it will lose its grip.

But NBA players don’t want to use new balls each game. In fact, they even get the privilege of choosing which balls to use in a game. Typically, they want a ball that’s been broken in as it gives better control and grip.

2. They’re given away to fans

One of the most common scenes after an NBA game is players signing basketballs and giving them away to fans.

The lucky fans won’t necessarily play with the ball but keep it as part of their collection or memorabilia. Sometimes, the used NBA balls might even fetch lots of money in the future, so it’s best to keep them safe and secure.

But if you’re wondering who pays for the balls given away to fans, it might be the players themselves.

The retail price of an official Wilson basketball is around $100+, which is just a chump change for players.

3. Players keep them

Sometimes when history was just made, players would like to keep the ball to themselves. After all, it would serve as priceless memorabilia for years to come.

They usually do this when records are broken, after winning the championship, or when they get a career-high scoring game.

Think of this as actors bringing home the props from the set. For NBA players, these basketballs are part of their history, and they want to keep them forever.

4. It gets retired/auctioned off

According to a source, NBA balls are typically just used around one to four games. So, the basketballs may be retired or auctioned off when they’re not given away or kept by players.

The NBA basketballs are one of the most important parts of the game. That’s why they’re kept in great condition while they’re in use.

But the league won’t use them anymore when they begin to deteriorate. After all, they want the best and the most unfair experience for all players.  

So, we can only imagine they would retire these balls, donate them or even auction them off and give the proceeds to charity.

How many balls are used in an NBA game?

According to sources online, 3 balls are brought to every NBA game by the officiating crew chief. But only one ball gets used for the entirety of the game. The other two will be backups.

At the start of each season, 72 NBA game balls are sent to each team.

Then, the testing of game balls will occur in each arena before each game. Then, the ball boys will bring the 3 balls to the official’s locker room to be inspected. They’ll ensure it’s game-ready, including the approved air pressure, around 7.5 to 8.5 PSI.

The chief official will bring the balls to the court if they’re approved. He will then select the ball to be used or let the star players from each team select.

It’s important to note that the basketballs used by players during warmup and practice are kept separate from the game balls. This is to maintain their quality come game day.

How long do NBA Basketballs last?

The NBA basketball is made of genuine leather. This means that they’re grippier but requires some breaking in. This is one of the reasons why the NBA doesn’t use new balls each game.

As mentioned above, the NBA provides each team with 72 balls each season. Thus, each ball can be used anywhere from 4-5 games.

That said, these basketballs aren’t so cheap that they’re thrown away after 4-5 games. It’s because players may keep or give them away to fans. Plus, they wouldn’t want a ball that has lost even a small amount of its grip.

So, if you’re wondering how long NBA basketballs generally last – they can be used for 1-3 years.

But their lifespan depends on these factors:

  • How much they’re used
  • How they’re maintained
  • The surface of the court they’re played in

NBA games are typically more intense than normal basketball games that you find in local parks. But the balls are maintained properly, and the court is a hardwood which prolongs the lifespan of the balls.

Even so, the league wouldn’t want to play with just one ball for the whole season.

Final Thoughts

NBA basketballs are one of the most essential parts of the league. They’re the ones that players use each game, so they hold a lot of history and significance.

As such, they may go to different places, as listed above. But most importantly, not one NBA ball will go to waste.

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