Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors punctuated the NBA’s 75th Anniversary season by knocking off the Boston Celtics, 4-2, in the Finals.
While the Warriors holding up the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy is the signature image of this celebratory season, a certain silver, red and blue basketball also left a lasting impression.
The bedazzled NBA basketball became the unofficial mascot for NBA 75. It seemed like you couldn’t go anywhere without seeing the shiny ball with the blue and red NBA 75 diamond logo. And basketball fans loved it.
Do a search on Tik Tok, Instagram or Twitter and you will see celebrities, players and hardcore and casual fans posing with the ball. So, while this special season will be remembered for the 75th Anniversary team, the short film called NBA Lane and the different uniforms released with the NBA logoman inside a diamond, a bedazzled basketball stole the show.
“It was the NBA’s diamond season, so we took that theme of the diamond logo while creating the ball,” said NBA senior director of social media Ashley Atwell. “The idea was sparked because we previously used the bedazzled ball at an award show and had a really cool bedazzled ball that one of our photographers had created. This was a really good opportunity to bring that idea back to life. So, once we saw the logo, we thought it would be cool to put it on a ball. This really started because we needed a cool idea for the NBA Draft.”
At last July’s draft, all the draftees who were in Brooklyn took a pic with the ball. And slowly but surely, like an author on a book signing tour, the jewel-encrusted ball started making appearances everywhere.
Name your favorite actor/actress or musician and chances are their fingerprints are on the ball.
“The celebrities are cool,” Atwell said. “There are definitely moments where you’re like, “Oh my God, I can’t believe that celebrity had the ball’. The first was in the beginning when Kevin Hart posted on his IG a picture of himself with the ball. I was like ‘wow, that’s really big’. He liked it enough to post on his Instagram. Then there was a photo of Reggie Miller and Spike Lee holding the ball together. Which is a crazy photo. It’s really cool to see. That’s the point of the ball, to bring people together, bring different generations together.”
As the ball started to gain popularity, the need to create multiple bedazzled balls grew. The bedazzled ball made appearances at the G League Winter Showcase, NBA All-Star Weekend, Formula One Grand Prix and of course at NBA events and arenas around the country. There are about nine diamond balls currently in rotation.
“Originally we had two just in case something happened to one of them,” Atwell said. “Then there was the NBA Lane shoot and we decided to bring the ball there and took pictures with everyone who was there. We realized we can start bringing the ball to all of the events. And that’s when we realized we needed more balls. We had one in Los Angeles and one on the East Coast and then other people started asking for the ball.”
Which begs the question, what makes the ball so cool?
“It kind of just took off,” Atwell said. “When we got to the draft and the players were holding the ball – they were definitely reacting to it. Then NBA employees were coming up like, ‘oh my gosh I got to take a picture’. That’s when we started to realize this is a thing. When we brought it to games, I was like I can’t believe how big this has gotten. Now my friends or people hit me up on Instagram, ‘like can I get a picture of the ball?’. ‘I’m like what, you’ve seen the ball’?
“The ball has become the face of the 75th anniversary, especially on social media. It’s a big part of the campaign. I don’t think I realized that was going to happen. I remember pitching it in an internal meeting – when we were talking about the start of the season. It seemed kind of insignificant in the grand scheme of things. Then to get to this point – it’s one of the biggest fan-facing moments that we did. It’s helped us carry the campaign all season long. And bring these generations together – fans and players.”