Raps welcome old ball

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:17 AM ET

Raptors coach Sam Mitchell will not give his team a head start on re-adjusting to the traditional leather ball.

After news broke yesterday that the NBA will replace the new microfibre composite ball with the old leather ball Jan. 1, Mitchell said the team will continue practising with the composite balls until its final game with those balls, Dec. 30 in Memphis against the Grizzlies.

Then, when the Raptors return from their New Year's break, Mitchell plans to have the leather balls out for practice in advance of a home game against the Phoenix Suns Jan. 3.

"Right now, since they're not changing it, we're not going to start (practising) with it now, it just wouldn't make sense," Mitchell said. "The last game we can use it, we'll kick them out the window and bring back the old ones. That's the only thing I know how to do."

At some point, the Raptors will need a shipment of leather balls. They have only 18 unused leather balls in stock. Traditionally, the Raptors use at least 40 balls at home and 12 more on the road.

Not surprisingly, the players were happy with the news. Fred Jones showed off some of the cuts on his fingers that developed since the new ball came into play.

"I had cuts and I never knew what they were from," Jones said. "Then somebody asked me if I had any cuts from the ball and I was like, 'That's what it's from.' I didn't know what it was. It's a paper cut, that's basically what it is."

When commissioner David Stern came to Toronto for the Raptors home opener, leather ball fan/veteran point guard Darrick Martin expressed his opinion in an interesting way.

"I asked him when was the last time he shot with it," Martin said. "He laughed and said 'Yeah I've used it' and we kind of joked."

Raptors point guard T.J. Ford, a vocal critic of the new ball, said bounce passes were almost impossible with it. He summed the situation up best.

"We all asked for it and now we get it back Jan. 1," he said. "Now, you won't hear any complaints about the basketball."

BRIEFLY

The Raptors committed an NBA season-low five turnovers in their loss against the Portland Trail Blazers Sunday, topping their previous best mark of six.


Videos

Photos