The composite microfiber basketball adopted for use in the NBA this season has been greeted with scorn by many star players.
Last week, the NBA Players Association filed a labor grievance against the league regarding the use of the new ball (as well as the "zero-tolerance" referee's whistle policy).
Houston Rockets owner Leslie Alexander's newly ex-wife Nanci, an avid animal-rights activist, could be responsible for the league's switch to the synthetic game ball, according to talk show host Joe McDonnell of AM 570 KLAC in Los Angeles.
As far as a hot rumor goes this certainly qualifies, and "word on the street" is that Nanci Alexander was able to convince her good friend, David Stern's wife Dianne Bock, into selling him on replacing the leather ball.
The leather trade is indeed brutal.
This showdown appears likely to be resolved by expensive litigation (or at least the threat thereof).
Update (12/6): the Commish prepares to capitulate ...
“I won’t make a spirited defense with respect to the ball,” Stern said. “In hindsight, we could have done a better job. I take responsibility for that.”
Update II: and Les Alexander debunks ...
"Do you think David Stern would even think about that?" Alexander said. "It's ridiculous. She asked him all the time when she saw him. He's not going to respond to that. David's got a lot of things on his mind. He's going to listen to that? She wanted everything removed that was leather. This was not going to be one of his priorities. If it was, we need a new commissioner."