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December 14, 2006

That's the way the ball bounces

And apparently it isn't bouncing like it used to.

At least that's what players are saying about the new basketball introduced by the NBA this year, the first change to the official ball in 35 years. The players complain that ball bounces differently, feels strange, doesn't grip well when moist and irritates their skin. The NBA claims the new ball was tested extensively, has been used in the last two All-Star games as well as in summer leagues, and at the amateur and developmental levels. But the full-time introduction of the new ball has led to a mass outcry from the players and even two unfair labor practices complaints brought by their union through the National Labor Relations Board.

So the NBA is putting its tail between its legs: The ball will be withdrawn from league play on January 1 and the old ball will be coming back.

I'm admittedly reading between the lines here, but the players' displeasure with the new ball seems to have multiplied into a much more serious hatred by the NBA's executive decision to begin using the ball without buy-in from the players.

Have you ever sprung a significant change on your employees or members before getting (or without attempting to get) their buy-in? How did they react?

In ASAE's new benchmarking survey, Seven Measures of Success, the authors write about legislative leadership. Power is diffuse in this day and age, especially in associations. Even seemingly insignificant changes in member benefits, employee benefits, office equipment, software and Web site usability have the potential to inspire constituent rancor, inefficiency and dissent. How do you avoid this?
  • Communicate early (including the time before the decision has been made)
  • Communicate frequently (throughout the decision-making process and as the decision is being implemented)
  • Communicate clearly (here's a great place to start)


Fred Simmons said...

A lot of players compared it to a Wal-Mart indoor-outdoor ball - complete garbage. That, to me, is the most perplexing part of the story. Not only did they skip asking the players' opinion, they didn't make any improvements on the existing ball.

Stern seems to be losing credibility with the players and fans (at least this fan).

Ben Martin, CAE said...

Well, it's all in the eye of the beholder. The NBA thought they had made improvements. It reminds me of many stories I heard in my days at HIDA about how nurses would just stop using new supplies their hospitals switched over to because they were "more advanced" in the eyes of the purchasers. But the people who used them thought they were inferior.

Rick Johnston, CAE said...

So that's what all the fuss was about the other night. They don't like the new ball. We may see more fights on the court if this keeps up.