Why Are Basketballs Orange?

Did you know, in the 1950s, Tony Hinkle, the head coach of Butler University’s Basketball, directed a campaign to alter the basketball color, which was brownish in the shade then?

However, he decided to change this color into an Orange shade to make it easier for both players and audiences to see the ball straightforwardly on the court.

The changes were not only made with the color but with the texture. Some lines were also created on the basketball to grasp it with more grip and avoid slipperiness. These lines are known as Ribs, which are specifically there to hold and grip the ball. 

But, still, the primary question is, why are basketball orange only? With a wide range of colors globally, why Tony chose this specific color for basketball? in this article, I have discussed an elaborated history behind basketball colors and their variation. So, let’s begin.

History of Basketball

When basketballs were not invented, the players played basketball sport using a soccer ball, and two peach baskets were held on the two sides of the court. Its prime purpose was to throw the ball via baskets just like players shoot the basketball into the basket. 

Then, in 1894. A company named The Spalding and Bros introduced a ball that was explicitly made for this sport. This ball was more elegant, manufactured with brownish leather pieces by stitching them and placing rubber’s interior. Besides, the diameter of this first basketball was 32 inches. 

Then the players started adopting this ball for their basketball game. And in 1948, the diameter got converted from 32 to 30 inches. Then with time, some improvements continued to take place.

The first basketball was constructed with fur leather pieces, which were also altered into eight leather bits. Nevertheless, the National Basketball League adopted this new kind of basketball and became its official ball.

Notwithstanding, the color-changing campaign did not take place until 1957. However, when Spalding and Bros collaborated with Tony Hinkle to discuss this variation in the ball.

They decided to introduce an orange-colored basketball in 1958 when the NCAA championships were going on. This color became the new standard color of basketball, and every person, player, and league adored this new variation.

Features of Basketball

Every kind of basketball features a similar structure with the same equipment, which includes a rubber bladder. It is usually covered in fiber levels and further wrapped with a synthetic amalgamated rubber.

But, at this point, you may discover some differences amongst different basketballs. If you find a traditional basketball, its outer layer would be leather instead of rubber because at first it was made of leather, due to which the basketball become pretty heavy.

Thus, these all are the features that make a basketball inflatable. Besides, a small opening is left to deflate or inflate the ball for any purpose.

If you want to learn How to Deflate Basketball, I have written a separate article on it.

Moreover, the pledge of the ball is divided by lines which are called ribs. As discussed earlier, the basketball was first divided into four sections, further converted into eight.

On the orange-shaded ball, these ribs were created in a darker tone for more details. These contrasting colors make the basketball more visual and conspicuous than other sports balls.

Reason Behind Basketball Being Orange

Moving back to the day when the typical shade for the basketball was brown, and numerous people argued that they could not see the ball on the court due to its darker shades. Furthermore, many players also encountered a challenge in seeing the ball, which badly impacted their scores.

However, due to this reason, the authorities decided to change the color of the ball and give it a lighter tone. As the lighter tone only became the orange color, so by a slight variation, a new basketball was introduced in the market, which was orange in the shade, but the partition lines were kept darker for enhancement.

Hence, every league adopted this new basketball by NCAA, NBA, and many others. But the ABA league did not find it suitable, and it introduced its own basketball with a somewhat different shade.

Basketball Color in ABA

The American Basketball Association was one of the significant basketball leagues during the 1960s to 1970s.

However, with the emergence of the NBA league, many of the ABA’s teams joined NBA, and the association collapsed in 1978. These teams included New York Nets, San Antonio Spurs, Indiana Pacers, and Denver Nuggets. 

Although the color of the basketball in ABA was different from the customary basketball, which comprised three vibrant shades; pink, red, and cream. These shades have established a sparkling appearance while the ball is in the movement. 

A prior ABA player, Gene Littles, stated that whenever he sees this ball moving on the court, it gives a unique mesmerizing feeling, and his heartbeat becomes a little faster.

Nonetheless, the basketball of ABA has fascinating shades. But it is a compact size, which makes it quite hard to handle while playing.

They are not only compact in size but also slippery because the ribs are not well-integrated. However, some of the ABA players use old basketballs that were heavier, denser, and easier to grip for all of these reasons.

Final Thoughts

This variation in basketball colors has developed more visualization by players as well spectators. However, there was no specific reason for choosing the orange shade. But it was just a lighter tone of brown shade so that the ball could be easily seen on the court.

This resulted in many benefits; it improved the score of the game, the ribs helped players grip the ball more efficiently, and it prevented slipperiness.

However, on the other hand, I also discussed the colors and issues of ABA basketball which ended up using the old traditional basketball. I hope you discover this article informative for you. Now you can quickly answer people if they ask you Why basketballs are orange in the shade?