NBA commissioner David Stern is hoping the complaints about his league's new ball will just go away -- like they did in soccer.
Some of the NBA's biggest stars, including Shaquille O'Neal, Dwyane Wade and Steve Nash, have complained about the ball, saying it's sticky when dry and too slippery when wet.
"To make me feel better, I went back and looked at reactions when Adidas introduced its new soccer ball," Stern said Wednesday. "There was virtually identical commentary."
The Adidas ball, introduced ahead of this year's World Cup, was met with heavy criticism from many players, especially goalkeepers. But few complaints were heard during the tournament.
O'Neal said the new basketball "feels like one of those cheap balls that you buy at the toy store, indoor-outdoor balls."
Stern, who is in Cologne to attend the final day of a four-team tournament that includes the Phoenix Suns and Philadelphia 76ers, said he would keep monitoring the situation.
"But as the players get more used to it, it will become less and less of an issue for us," Stern said.
Stern also said NBA teams will continue to tour Europe for preseason games, and said the current trip was a "complete success" -- apart from seeing a fan in Cologne wearing a counterfeit Allen Iverson jersey in Seattle SuperSonics colors.
"Then I knew there was some hanky-panky. It was over the top," Stern said with a chuckle.
The Los Angeles Clippers and the San Antonio Spurs have also been playing in Europe, and Stern said there was a long list of cities eager to host NBA teams, including London.
"We'd like to make this an annual affair. Players have been very happy, they have been enriched by the experience," Stern said.
Toronto Raptors point guard TJ Ford is joining the growing chorus of NBA players who are complaining about the new Spalding game ball.
"Once the ball hits the floor it sticks," Ford told the Toronto Globe and Mail on Wednesday. "I don't think you'll see too many long bounce passes. It feels like an outdoor ball," he said.
The new synthetic composite ball, made by the Atlanta, Georgia-based Russell Corp, replaces the traditional leather ball that has been used for the past few decades. The NBA has been using the Spalding brand ball since 1983.
The ball is featured prominently on the company's Web site where it is advertised for sale to fans at US$100. The NBA also has a financial stake in the new ball and offers it for sale on their Web site.