You’ll see many different basketball brands and designs at a sporting shop. Basketballs are also available in various sizes, based on the age group that will use them. At present, the majority of basketballs are made out of rubber, leather, or synthetic composite. The original color scheme of the basketball is brownish, with an orange-colored surface. It features black ribs and a logo. However, before the styles that we have present-day, basketballs in the past were different.
If you’ve been watching NCAA basketball over the years, you may have noticed something unusual in the most recent March Madness – basketballs became extra orange. Some fans thought their TV settings might have messed up because those basketballs seemed bright.
While they noticed that NCAA Tournament basketballs became more orange than ever, have you ever wondered and asked yourself why they are orange? Why not your favorite color? Is there any significant meaning behind it?
Let’s jump into the details and have your questions answered in just a few minutes of reading.
What Was the Original Color of Basketball?
Before diving into the basketball color, let’s know its rich history first. In 1891, the first basketball was created. Its main objective was to throw the ball through the peach baskets, like in today’s basketball, where players shoot the ball into the basket. Players used to utilize a football ball, and two baskets were hung on both sides of the court.
Everyone who played the game wanted to use a specific ball. In 1894, a company named The Spalding and Bros presented a sophisticated and more appropriate ball made from leather. The circumference of that first basketball was 32″. However, in 1948, basketball’s design changed with its circumference reduced to 30″. Over time, improvements continued to be made.
The color of the first-ever basketball was dark brown, which comes naturally with the material used, the heavy leather. There had been changes in design over the decades, but the stain remained until 1957.
When Did Basketballs Become Orange?
In 1905, teams were allowed to select their basketball. It was challenging to dribble with the early brown leather basketballs because of their shape and laces.
In 1929, they created basketballs designed to have increased bounce. They were equipped with laces that were concealed to prevent unpredictability in bounces. The balls were more noticeable and lighter, which made them easier to control. In 1942, basketballs molded with a consistent shape and size replaced stitched balls.
Despite this, the color-changing program occurred only in 1958 when Spalding and Bros collaborated with Tony Hinkle and introduced an orange-colored basketball during the NCAA championship. Since then, orange has become the new accepted and uniform color of basketball as it gained the approval of the players and the general public.
Today, the standard orange color code for basketball is #ee6730, and the RGB color code is RGB (238,103,48).
Why Did They Change the Color of the Basketball?
The first basketball was made of heavy leather, which made its color dark brown. People complained about its visibility, and players added that it negatively affected their overall game. Because of that, the authorities decided to change the color of the basketball and released a new one on the market, which was orange. This new color was adopted by major basketball leagues like NCAA and NBA.
During the 1960s-1970s, a professional basketball league competed with the NBA, the American Basketball Association (ABA). They used a basketball in three shades – white, blue, and red. These fascinating colors create a sparkling appearance while the ball is in motion. ABA merged with the NBA in 1976, and the ball with a distinct color they used was replaced by orange and became the official color of NBA basketball.
While most basketballs are orange and feature black partitions known as ribs, there are also different shades like red, blue, green, and black. But these colors tend to be more inclined toward fashion than functionality.
What Color of Basketball Do Other Country Use?
Theirs is no doubt that basketball is a global sport. It has been evident in the NBA that foreign players have been dominating the league in recent years. The current 4 MVPs and 4 of the last 5 Defensive Player of the Year awards were grabbed by international players. Last February, the All-Star Game featured six international players, four of whom were starters. The opening night rosters of the 2021-2022 season featured 121 international players. These data proved that basketball is played around the world.
There are many basketball clubs outside the USA. Australia, Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and South America have semi-professional and professional leagues. In Australia, their basketball color is very similar to the NBA. They are using orange with black webbings within the panels. However, other leagues worldwide have their unique basketball colors and designs.
In Spain, the LIGA ACB has a very unpopular and unique-looking basketball. The design and color have similarities and differences to the NBA basketballs. The LIGA ACB standard basketball has alternating orange and black panels; in contrast, the NBA official ball has orange panels separated by thin black ribbings.
In Japan, they have a professional league that was inaugurated in 2016. The Japanese B.League has a distinguishing color structure for its basketball. It uses basketballs with orange and white interlocking panels.
Russia might have the most distinctive color of a basketball. Their professional basketball club, VTB United League, has a bright-looking basketball with alternating blue and orange panels.
Basketball is so popular in the Philippines that basketball courts are everywhere. The Philippine Basketball Association, a country’s professional league, uses a basketball similar to Japan’s B.League, the orange with white interlocking panels.
Other Evolutions of the Basketball
The shape and design of the basketball have changed significantly since its first appearance in 1894. From A.G Spalding and Bros’ balls that are laced with leather to basketballs that are fitted with sensors in the present.
In 1937, Spalding invented the first “laceless” basketball, replacing the hand-stitched balls. Some features remain the same, including the genuine leather used for covering. The first molded basketball was created in 1942. These balls were made with a standard circumference of 76 centimeters. By removing the varying sizes and shapes, players could improve their abilities and not risk the ball’s previous unpredictability in bouncing.
To improve the ball’s grip, the NBA changed the design of its basketball in 1970 and added four panels of leather, making it eight. They also introduced synthetic leather cover for basketballs two years later. To increase the ball’s durability, Spalding created a composite leather design in 1992. The method also improved the control and grip of the ball while keeping its softness for better ball handling.
In 2001, Spalding integrated Micro Pump into the balls, which prolonged the ball’s lifespan. Unlike the old balls that needed to be replaced when deflated, this technology features a micro pump within the ball that automatically pops out and inflates the ball any time it needs more air. This help prolongs the lifespan of the ball.
In 2006, the NBA changed its ball with its Spalding Cross Traxxion design. The balls’ covers were changed from eight cross-shaped panels to two interlocking panels made of synthetic microfiber. A new design resulted in a better and more stable grip due to a more efficient moisture-management component.
In the same way, the previous usage of leather balls needed ‘to break in’ before playing the game to eliminate the slickness of leather; introducing a composite material eliminated this aspect and improved the consistency of all balls in the same design.
The same year, Spalding also introduced the NeverFlat technology, which was the first time that the properties of pressure retention in basketball. The benefits of these technologies included the assurance of total inflation for more than a year, which is a 10-fold increase in the time to inflation of prior basketballs.
In 2013, developing the first world-class smart sensor basketball opened an era of basketball technology and design. No basketball has been as technologically advanced as the 94Fifty. It has created the possibility of a new type of ball that can’t be intended to be used for a requirement. However, they are an instrument to coach and analysis of techniques.
Wrapping Things Up: Why Are Basketball Orange?
Like almost everything, basketball has significantly improved over time. It underwent several changes to adapt to the demand for visibility, handling, and comfort. The first basketball was dark brown due to the material being used, the heavy leather.
The main reason they changed the color of basketball from dark brown to orange was to improve the level of visibility for players, fans, and game officials. The material, design, and pumping capabilities also have significant improvements all over the years for the best experience for everyone.
We hope you enjoyed this post! If you did, be sure to check out our other basketball FAQ articles here.