The Best Nike Basketballs for Recreational and Competitive Play [2023 Buying Guide]

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Nike’s affiliation with the sport of basketball goes beyond the t-shirts, shorts and shoes that you see professional players wearing out on the court.

The footwear manufacturing company also makes a fine basketball and have done so for a number of years – having been around since 1964.

But you won’t hear their basketballs being talked about as much as some of the other brands like Spalding or Wilson.

And this is because the latter two brands get a lot more media coverage when it comes to basketball, having been the official ball sponsors of the National Basketball Association in North America.

However, Nike aren’t too far behind in terms of popularity and for good reason.

Lots of sports players are well accustomed to using Nike gear, especially basketballers.

So, this article is going to take a look at some of the best Nike basketball options that the market has to offer.

Without further ado, let’s begin with a list of the top choices:





Our #1 Rated

Nike Elite Championship Basketball

Composite leather construction

Wraparound panel design


Best Value

Nike Baller Basketball

Ultra durable exterior

Deep channels


Best Budget 

Nike Dominate Basketball

Rubber outer

Striking multicolor design


Nike Versa Tack Basketball

Traditional pebble texture

Soft touch rubber core


The Nike Elite Championship Basketball is the clear winner here. The brand’s emphasis on game-dry composite leather as the outer material gives players fantastic grip and ball control, whilst the wraparound panel design of this model virtually guarantees accurate shot alignment, which is a dream for experienced players.

1. Nike Elite Championship Basketball

First up we have the Nike Elite Championship Basketball.

This basketball is highly rated by many and for very good reason.

Nike decided to build the most technically advanced basketball that they could come up with, and this one is the result of all that hard research and development work.

Here are some of its standout features:

Game-dry composite leather construction

To begin with, the outer cover of this basketball is micro-perforated to give players the absolute best possible dry grip.

Because the ball is so easy to grab hold of, players can also take up positions for shooting at a much faster pace as a byproduct of the enhanced grip is quicker shooting alignment.

And just because the ball is easy to grip doesn’t mean that Nike have neglected to make it soft to touch.

The combination of rubber and leather material works well to offer players a soft touch for superior hand feeling and ball control on the court.

Wraparound panel design

Things get even better with this ball the more you read through the feature list!

Nike ensured this ball has a wraparound panel design that helps players when it comes to shot alignment.

On a similar note, the textured laid-in channels on this basketball give grip and touch consistency to the entire outer surface, which helps players tremendously when it comes to core basketball moves like dribbling and shooting.

NFHS approved

Another plus point of this ball is the fact that it’s approved for competitive use by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS).

This association will obviously have its own performance benchmarks for how basketballs should behave when they’re used on court, and the fact that this ball is officially approved means that it meets and exceeds the aforementioned benchmarks.

Video review

Now you’re probably curious as to how this ball plays on the court.

So, take a look at the video below which offers a detailed review of this basketball:

Other specifications

  • Ball size – official size 7 (29.5”)
  • Ball weight – 300 grams
  • Ball material – 86% rubber, 14% synthetic leather
  • Grip is great as advertised
  • Solid durability
  • Even though it’s built for indoor play on hardwood, it can hold its own on an outdoor court
  • Fairly high price point which may put it out of the budget range of some cost-conscious buyers

There are also some lower-spec basketballs that Nike have released which you might find worth buying especially if the premium price point on the championship model is a deal breaker.

Have a look through the options listed below:

Nike Unisex - Elite All- Court Basketball, Amber Metallic Silver/Black, 7, Amber Black Metallic Silver Black
  • The basketball is made from 84% rubber and 16% synthetic leather
  • The ball is size 7 and is suitable for indoor and outdoor use.
  • The non-slip surface improves the grip

2. Nike Baller Basketball

Nike Baller Basketball
  • Full size 29.5" color amber/black/metallic platinum, ultra durable exterior made for tough outdoor play, deep channels for precise hand alignment and control, packaged within the original Nike box.

The second choice in this product roundup is the Nike Baller Basketball.

It doesn’t look much different from the basketball reviewed above, but it is in fact constructed for a different purpose.

Read on to find out more.

Ultra durable exterior

Nike developed this ball purely for tough outdoor play.

If you’re trying to become a better shooter in basketball and need to put in a number of hours of practice outside on a regular basis, then this ball is a fantastic choice for you.

So, say for example you need to shoot hoops after school or college classes, this ball will suit your needs to a tee regardless of whether the sun is out or the rain is pouring down on the concrete.

The exterior uses a blend of really tough rubber to give it the solidity that makes it a good choice for outdoor play.

And that means you can focus on improving different elements of your game, as you likely won’t have to worry about the basketball deflating because of tear and wear.

Deep channels

This basketball also comes with deep channels that allow for precise hand alignment and ball control.

Players like to feel in command on the court, and this ball gives you that feeling as you handle it.

Other specifications

  • Ball size – official size 7 (29.5”)
  • Outer material – rubber blend
  • Package weight – 700 grams
  • Solid price point
  • Holds up as expected even after months of regular use
  • Bounces well and has a really good feel to it
  • Ships deflated so you’ll have to pump it up before first use

3. Nike Versa Tack Basketball

Next up we have the Nike Versa Tack Basketball.

This one looks pretty good when compared against the options that have already been reviewed.

It’s got Nike’s iconic swoosh logo prominently positioned on the front side, and the darker brown color really matches up well with the silver and black highlights that outline the swoosh.

But that’s not all.

From a performance perspective it also arguably delivers.

Here’s how.

Traditional pebble texture

Nike crafted this ball with a traditional pebble texture to ensure that players get a familiar feel.

Familiarity is so important when it comes to basketball as players are used to handling the ball and moving with it on the court in a certain way.

When that flow gets interrupted, players struggle to adapt on the court and that detracts from their game momentum.

So, the standard pebble texture on this one means that athletes should have no trouble handling the ball just how they are used to.

In addition to that, the surface of the ball is quite tacky (which is implied in the name!), and that ultimately enhances grip.

Soft touch rubber core

Despite its tackiness, the ball gives off a premium feel that you’d only expect to notice in high-end basketballs.

The soft material used is easy on the hands, so you don’t have to worry about picking up those pesky little blisters along the way.

Video review

The following video provides a detailed evaluation of the qualities of this ball, so you should check it out:

Other specifications

  • Ball size – official size 7 (29.5”)
  • Ball material – faux leather
  • Package weight – 760 grams
  • Decent price point
  • Equally suited for both indoor and outdoor play
  • Easy to inflate
  • Bounce is not the best, as it takes a little more force to get good rebound feedback

4. Nike Dominate Basketball

Last but not least, we have the Nike Dominate Basketball.

This one goes against the traditional black/orange look of a typical basketball, as it sports a multicolor appearance that neatly combines black, red and white.

It’s a great option for outdoor use, because of the fact that it’s built with a tough and durable, textured rubber cover.

Grip and handling during the game also shouldn’t be an issue, as the fine pebbling makes it easy to grab hold of.

Video review

Here’s a bit of video footage that breaks down the feature set of this basketball a little more:

Other specifications

  • Ball size – official size 7 (29.5”)
  • Ball weight – 587 grams
  • Very durable as it withstands wear and tear on concrete surfaces quite well
  • Solid grip
  • Good bounce uniformity
  • Very cheap price point
  • The white stripes on the ball peel off fairly quickly with regular use

What to consider before buying a Nike basketball

Before you end up spending on a Nike basketball, you need to have a bit of a think.

After all, you don’t want to make a purchase for a product that ends up not suiting your specific set of needs.

Have a read through this last section for a better understanding of some of these factors.


best nike basketballs - durable material

The material of the basketball is quite important.

As you should be aware, composite leather holds up better than rubber as the latter is a cheaper material to put together when it comes to the production of basketballs.

So, if you’re after the peak of durability, then a leather ball should be a better choice.


If you intend for your kids to use this basketball more than yourself, then it would be a good idea to go for a smaller sized ball.

A size 5 or size 6 ball would suffice here.

Young children will be more comfortable developing their basketball skills with a Nike basketball whose size is more accommodating to them.

Remember, kids don’t yet have the bone and muscle strength that mature adults are blessed with, because their bones are still in their growth phase.

And as their bodies are more fragile, they need a smaller basketball which they can hold onto and throw.

Indoor or outdoor play

best nike basketballs - equally good indoors and outdoors

The final thing you should weigh up is where you intend to play.

If you have access to an indoor arena, then a Nike Championship ball specifically designed for hardwood would be an ideal fit.

Conversely, if you play basketball outside then a Nike basketball with an all-surface composite cover or a dedicated outdoor one would work well.

Which Nike basketball is best?

Clearly, there’s not much debate as to which Nike basketball comes out as the winner.

It has to be the Nike Elite Championship Basketball, for its combination of composite leather construction that delivers grip and its wraparound panel design is hard to beat.

For related content, have a look at our article on the greatest Spalding basketballs; our product roundup of the finest Wilson basketballs and our post on the best basketball nets.

And if you’re in need of a replacement rim for your hoop set up, then we have a basketball rim buying guide just for you!

About Samuel Waihenya

Samuel is an avid fan of basketball and has been following the sport for over 10 years. He now intends to dedicate his time to produce great content for his own little basketball blog that aims to help its readership with whatever basketball-related topic they can think of. Have a read through Samuel Waihenya's author bio page here.