Players Welcome Return of Old Ball

By Ivan Carter
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The NBA's decision to go back to a leather basketball starting on Jan. 1 was welcomed as good news by several Washington Wizards.

Guard Antonio Daniels and forward Caron Butler praised the reversal by Commissioner David Stern. Stern decided to go back to the old ball after players throughout the league complained about the new synthetic ball that was introduced during training camp.

"It's tradition, so it's good to get back to it," Butler said. "Players change but the ball should stay the same."

Coach Eddie Jordan said the team planned to order a shipment of the old balls as soon as possible so players could begin getting reacquainted with them.

"We'll be on the road next week, so maybe we'll have each guy take one with them to their rooms like we all did when we were kids, just shooting the ball at the ceiling," Jordan said. "They can dribble it around their rooms, as long as they aren't above my room; I have to get my sleep."

Guard Gilbert Arenas brought an old ball to yesterday's practice and some of the players took turns handling it. "It was like, man, it doesn't even feel the same," Butler said. "It will just take a little bit of time to get used to it."

Heading West

Tonight's game will begin a stretch of six games in 14 days against teams from the Western Conference. After hosting Eastern Conference rival Miami on Friday night, the Wizards hit the road for four games against the Los Angeles Lakers, Denver, Sacramento and Phoenix, before returning home to face Memphis on Dec. 26. The Wizards are 1-4 against the West this season.

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