Spalding vs. Baden

Baden basketballs were popular in the 1980s. Now the OIA has brought them back, replacing the Spalding TF-1000. (Paul Honda / Star-Advertiser)
Baden basketballs were popular in the 1980s. Now the OIA has brought them back, replacing the Spalding TF-1000. (Paul Honda / Star-Advertiser)
The Spalding TF-1000, a light basketball with a bit of a red tint, is no longer the official ball of the OIA and HHSAA. (Paul Honda / Star-Advertiser)
The Spalding TF-1000, a light basketball with a bit of a red tint, is no longer the official ball of the OIA and HHSAA. (Paul Honda / Star-Advertiser)

After watching tournaments use Baden basketballs on Thursday (Alegre Invitational hosted by Radford) and Friday (Black and Gold Classic hosted by McKinley), I’m at Kailua, where the red Spalding TF-1000 basketball is in use at the Surfrider Classic.

I know there are fans, coaches and even ballers who will say it doesn’t matter what brand the ball is. A ball is a ball. But an overwhelming majority of players I’ve talked to it matters. They don’t really like the Spalding TF-1000, not the newer version that is light and strange to the touch.

The Baden ball has a bit of a spongy feel, wider channels and a better feel for shooters. One coach would rather use Badens for practical reasons.


“Me and a lot of coaches wanted to use Baden (in ILH play) because it’s going to be the state (tournament) ball,” Punahou coach Darren Matsuda said. “But we were told the ILH still wants to use Spalding.”

While the ILH sticks with Spalding balls — maybe there’s a surplus of them in their gyms — the OIA has gone ahead and made the switch. It’s an unusual issue, but if this had occurred just a few seasons ago, the argument by most might have been to keep the previous version of TF-100.


“The old TF-1000s were good. But the new composite one wears out within a month and it totally feels different,” said Matsuda, who led the Buffanblu to a state crown in 2012.

Matsuda noted that when Wilson was involved with the process when the HHSAA and OIA were seeking a new contract with a basketball manufacturer; the contract with Spalding expired this year.


Matsuda was hoping athletic directors would adopt the popular — and durable — Evolution basketball. It was not to be. It may be moot in the OIA, anyway, since Badens feel similar to Evolutions. If scoring goes up in the OIA this season, it might just be the ball that made some of the difference.

In the ILH, it might be intriguing to see how players adjust to a different ball between the end of the regular season and the state tourney.

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