The Best Spalding Basketballs to Play with [2022 Buying Guide]

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Spalding is a household brand when it comes to the sport of basketball.

Over the last couple of decades, the company has been one of the major faces of NBA basketball in America.

They were the official ball sponsors for America’s most prestigious basketball division since 1983 and went on to hold that title for over 30 years.

Spalding started creating sporting goods in 1876, where the founder Albert Goodwill Spalding ventured into creating baseballs that he developed himself.

After moving on to making baseball gloves and launching the first American football, the company then came up with the first basketball in 1894.

Now these days you probably see the simple Spalding logo lettered onto basketballs of all types and sizes.

What’s abundantly clear is that those who play the game for recreational purposes, and the professionals who take to the court on a daily basis, can both attest to the fact that Spalding has been an iconic part of the history of basketball.

So, in this article, we’re going to take a look at the best Spalding basketballs that you can buy.

There are so many fantastic options to choose from and it’s easy to suffer from analysis paralysis when it comes to making a decision on what basketball should be purchased.

Now, let’s cut right to the chase with a list of the top picks:

Image

Product

Features

 Rating


Our #1 Rated

Spalding Legacy TF-1000 Indoor Game Basketball

Wet grip microfibre composite

NFHS approved

83%

Best Value

Spalding NBA Street Outdoor Basketball

Deep channel design

Durable performance cover

76%

Best Budget 

Spalding Rookie Gear Youth Basketball

15% lighter than standard

All-surface play

74%

Spalding React TF-250 All Surface Basketball

Butyl rubber bladder fitted

Shooter Seam equipped

72%

Spalding Street Phantom Outdoor Basketball

Soft grip technology

Sponge rubber design

71%

The Spalding Legacy TF-1000 Indoor Basketball is arguably the best of the bunch. The fact that its design incorporates a moisture management system that functions to wick sweat away from it for superior ball handling is simply outstanding.

Let’s now dig a little more into that!

1. Spalding Legacy TF-1000 Indoor Game Basketball

Spalding Legacy TF-1000 Indoor Game Basketball
  • BUILT DIFFERENT: Wet grip microfiber composite cover moisture management system wicks away sweat to maintain superior handles.
  • SHOOTER’S TOUCH: Spalding Shooter’s Seam is designed for instant ball recognition, exceptional control, and precise accuracy.
  • ELITE PERFORMANCE: Rotationally balanced butyl bladder provides ultimate air retention and nylon windings provide excellent structural integrity.

When reviewing the best Spalding basketballs, it’s always good to start with the cream of the crop.

Spalding even claim that this Legacy TF-1000 Indoor Game Basketball has “no equal”, which you may be inclined to agree with once you’ve finished reading this post.

Anyway, here’s what this ball brings to the court.

Wet grip microfiber composite

You know basketball can be a very sweaty game.

There’s lots of running up and down the court, sharp turning as well as plenty of jumping.

Players sometimes sweat to the point where their hands begin to get clammy.

Now those same hands are used to handle the basketball, and if it gets slippery due to a build up of moisture then smooth gameplay becomes much more difficult to obtain.

And that’s where the moisture management system on the Legacy TF-1000 Indoor Game Basketball comes in handy.

What happens is that the microfiber composite cover wicks the sweat and drippy moisture away from the material surface of the ball, which subsequently allows players to handle the ball effectively and efficiently.

That means no slips from your grasp when you try to catch the basketball or awkward handling when bouncing the ball in play.

Rotationally balanced butyl bladder

Spalding have paid a lot of attention to the performance of this ball.

First of all, they’ve prioritized air retention through the fitting of a butyl bladder.

Normally a basketball is fitted with a latex bladder or a butyl one.

The latter help with keeping the spherical shape of the ball a lot better than the former, as they are heavier and more robust.

So, you get a durable ball that lasts a very long time as the bladder that’s fitted inside it is able to hold all the air that gets pumped in for a very long period of time.

On the other hand, Spalding have also incorporated nylon windings that help maintain the structural integrity of this ball.

NFHS approved

Another mark of quality that this ball has is the fact that it has been inspected by the National Federation of State High School Associations in America.

This ball is therefore officially approved for use in high schools across the country, whether that’s in the city of New York or the state of Texas.

For a basketball to pass such a quality inspection, it can only mean that it performs admirably well when it comes to things like bounce uniformity, shape retention and moisture uptake.

Video review

Take a look at the clip below as it takes a different angle of evaluating how good this ball truly is:

Other specifications

  • Ball size – official size 7 (diameter 29.5”)
  • Material cover – composite leather
  • Package weight – 0.84 kilograms
Benefits
  • Moisture management system keeps the ball consistently dry
  • Bounces fantastically well on a hardwood court surface
  • Easy to dribble
  • Grip is fine
  • Butyl bladder fitted which retains air pumped in for long periods
Drawbacks
  • Relatively steep price point

2. Spalding NBA Street Outdoor Basketball

Spalding NBA Street Outdoor Basketball
  • Official size and weight: Size 7, 29.5" or Intermediate: Size 6, 28.5" or Youth size and weight: Size 5, 27.5" available
  • Performance outdoor rubber cover
  • Deep channel design for superior control

Without a shadow of a doubt, Spalding hit the jackpot with this NBA Street Outdoor Basketball.

It’s been well received by thousands of customers scattered all across the globe, and it will probably be a best seller for quite a while yet!

And one of the reasons why this basketball is so popular amongst consumers is the fact that it’s been designed fantastically for street play.

There are thousands of basketball players who like to shoot hoops in the streets during their leisure time, and this basketball allows them to go and enjoy doing exactly that.

This street basketball has been purposefully designed for the outdoors, be it that annual summer tournament that spans a couple of days or that simple Saturday game at the local park.

Now, here are some of the features that make this basketball truly stand out:

Deep channel design

When you handle a basketball, you want to feel in control all the time.

This ball delivers remarkably well in this respect, as players benefit from superior grip and control when they bounce the ball on the court surface.

One of the most annoying things a player can experience is having the ball slip away from their grasp when they try to catch it or dribble it down the court.

With this basketball, you’re unlikely to experience such difficulties as you’ll feel your fingertips stick very well onto the pebbling of the ball once you’ve made initial palm contact.

This is in stark contrast to a composite leather ball where your fingertips have more opportunity to “glide” over the ball when you’re gripping on to it.

Now some people prefer the latter playing experience, which is fair enough in and of itself.

But for those of you that prioritize precision and control in your game, then this ball is a fantastic choice.

Durable performance cover

Another area where this basketball comes in clutch is with regard to its robustness.

You shouldn’t experience and durability concerns or problems when you play with it on rougher court surfaces like asphalt or concrete.

Despite the fact that rubber is a less durable material for a basketball than composite leather, you can expect to get at least two quality seasons of moderate to heavy use out of this basketball.

More so, the rubber on this ball should break down at a much slower rate when compared against basketballs that are made out of bargain basement rubber material.

And that makes it pretty good value all things considered.

Improved over the 2020 version

A lot of people can attest to the fact that the previous edition of this ball (released in 2020), didn’t live up to expectations when it came to how it played out of the box.

That would obviously be a major concern for buyers, as you wouldn’t want to buy this ball if it didn’t bounce well enough right out of the gate after inflation.

Well, it’s safe to say that Spalding Laboratories did a fine job of taking that feedback into account as they made improvements in this area.

It bounces the way you expect it to right out of the packaging, which is exactly what a customer expects and wants in a quality product.

Lastly, if you feel like the 2021 version still isn’t for you, then you can check out the latest 2022 version of this ball at the link below:

Spalding Street Outdoor Basketball 2022 Version
  • Intermediate size and weight: Size 6, 28.5"
  • Performance outdoor rubber cover
  • Deep channel design for superior control

Video review

It’s always good for readers to get a visual illustration of what the ball looks like.

So, this article has included some video footage of the basketball in use, so that you can see how it performs and holds up in real-life situations.

Take a look at the clip below:

Other specifications

  • Ball sizes – youth size 5 (27.5” diameter), intermediate size 6 (28.5” diameter) and official size 7 (29.5” diameter)
  • Package weight – 0.73 kilograms
  • Ball material – rubber
Benefits
  • Great grip which allow for smoother handling control
  • Bounces well on concrete, asphalt, sports courts and hardwood
  • Solid price point makes it great value for a rubber ball
  • Ships inflated so is ready to use right out of the box
Drawbacks
  • Not as durable as a leather composite basketball
  • Air retention could be slightly better

3. Spalding React TF-250 All Surface Composite Basketball

Sale
Spalding React TF-250 Basketball
  • Intermediate size and weight: size 6, 28.5"
  • All-surface composite leather cover
  • Butyl rubber bladder for air retention

Next up we have this sleek looking Spalding React TF-250 Basketball.

Unlike the previously reviewed NBA Street Basketball, this one is built to handle both indoor and outdoor play.

So, that means if you want to brace the elements outside whilst you shoot some hoops with your friends, or have the comfort of playing on an indoor court at a local gym facility then this ball suits all those needs.

Additionally, this basketball has been built with recreational leagues and summer camps in mind, which is ideal if you’re looking for a ball that fits a more causal style of court play.

Okay, let’s now get into the headline features that this one has to offer!

Butyl rubber bladder

The bladder is the part of the basketball that holds all the air in place.

A butyl one is able to retain the air pumped into the basketball for longer, which means you can enjoy more games with a well inflated basketball than you could if the ball contained a latex bladder instead.

In addition to this, butyl bladders keep shape much better.

What this means is that you don’t have to worry about this Spalding basketball forming lumps on its outer covering, as the bladder within it is much sturdier and durable enough to withstand tear and wear.

Shooter SeamTM

Spalding incorporated a shooter’s seam into this ball to give the risk takers in the sport a better chance at making accurate attempts at the basket.

You see, the combination of design features such as instant ball recognition, precision control and accuracy work together to provide shooters with a greater feel when they throw the ball up towards the hoop.

It’s definitely frustrating seeing the ball bounce off of the rim time and time again, which is why Spalding wanted to enhance a shooter’s touch through this feature and give them the best chance to succeed on the court.

All-surface play

You can rest assured that this ball will perform admirably well on each of the aforementioned surfaces, as it’s been built with a durable composite leather cover that can withstand the stresses of play.

Generally, you’d think any ball that’s made of leather and is used outside will struggle to hold up, but that isn’t the case with this Spalding ball.

Because it’s an all surface composite ball, it’s constructed with a leather material that can keep up with the rigors of outdoor play.

Ultimately, the React TF-250 responds and transitions well between a variety of court surfaces.

We’re talking anywhere from:

  • The driveway;
  • The gym;
  • The local hardwood court; to
  • Concrete or asphalt surfaces

Video review

Take a look at how it bounces on an outdoor court surface:

Pretty great, right?

Other specifications

  • Bladder type – butyl rubber
  • Ball material – leather
  • Ball weight – 522 grams
  • Ball sizes – intermediate size 6 (28.5”) and official size 7 (29.5”)
Benefits
  • Bounce uniformity and height is good
  • Holds air very well even when exposed to temperature extremes
  • Ships fully inflated
Drawbacks
  • Can be difficult for some people to palm
  • Scratches and scuffs fairly easily

4. Spalding Rookie Gear Youth Indoor-Outdoor Basketball

Sale
Spalding Rookie Gear Youth Basketball
  • Youth: Size 5, 27.5"
  • Performance composite cover
  • 15% lighter to help develop technique

Spalding have been able to cater to different types of customers, and this is evident with the production of their Rookie Gear Youth Basketball.

This basketball has clearly been made with the youthful audience in mind, as it incorporates bright colors that make it stand out from your traditional orange ball.

But that’s not all.

The brand has gone the extra mile to ensure that young players get the absolute best performance out of this ball.

Here’s how…

15% weight reduction

This basketball is 15% lighter than an official size basketball, meaning that kids are able to hone and perfect their skills with a ball that is more accommodating to their developing technique.

So, as a younger player, you can practice your shooting, passing and dribbling without having to deal with the weight burden that a normal basketball usually comes with.

All-surface

Young kids can enjoy playing with this ball on all sorts of surfaces, as it’s put together with composite leather.

It will hold up well whether you’re playing with it on the driveway or at the local gym.

Other specifications

  • Ball size – youth size 5 (27.5”)
  • Outer material – composite leather
Benefits
  • Good size and weight for small kids to play with and learn more about basketball concepts
  • Ships inflated so is ready to use out of the box
  • Multi-color keeps young kids engaged
Drawbacks
  • Inconsistencies with how this product is packaged have been reported

If you’re after an alternative basketball that’s a bit heavier but retains the same colorfulness, then you should take a look at Spalding’s Varsity Multi Color Outdoor Basketball.

This one comes in an intermediate size 6 (i.e. 28.5 inches in diameter) and has a rubber covering as opposed to composite leather.

5. Spalding Street Phantom Outdoor Basketball

Spalding Street Phantom Outdoor Basketball
  • Official size and weight: Size 7, 29.5"
  • High performance rubber cover with Soft Grip Technology
  • Sponge rubber design

Here we have another basketball built by Spalding to endure usage on concrete courts and asphalt arenas, as it comes with a durable rubber construction.

Now the Street Phantom Basketball doesn’t look too flashy in terms of color, as it features neon yellow highlights on a predominantly black sphere.

In fact, you could go far enough to say that it looks pretty unique in that sense!

But there’s one particular area where this ball stands out, and that relates to how the ball feels when it’s handled.

Soft grip technology

Basketballs being soft to touch is certainly not a new phenomenon.

Many basketball manufacturers work tirelessly to ensure that their balls have the right balance between the softness of the grip and overall durability.

Spalding have developed a ball that has slightly denser pebbles which ensures that players have greater control when they attempt to dribble or shoot.

Along with that, Spalding have made the channels a little wider than normal, but that doesn’t compromise on the level of grip that this ball is capable of.

More so, the sponge rubber design of this ball acts as a good cushion that makes it feel really good to palm.

Therefore, what you have here is a basketball that is soft to the touch and offers satisfactory levels of grip that allow players to perform at a high level on the court.

Video review

Have a look at what another basketball enthusiast had to say about this ball, as it can help inform your decision on whether to purchase it:

Other specifications

  • Ball material – rubber
  • Ball size – official size 7 (29.5”)
Benefits
  • Shipped inflated
  • Affordable price point
  • Fairly durable when compared against other balls in the same price range
  • Smooth texture makes it very comfortable in the hands
Drawbacks
  • Becomes a little slippery to handle if bounced on a wet surface
  • Not the best bounce consistency, especially when inflated to a higher-pressure level than normal. Which is disappointing although expected in a cheaper ball like this one.

Other Spalding basketballs worth considering

Now this article would turn into a novel if we were to meticulously review each and every basketball that Spalding has produced.

The brand has certainly produced some good basketballs, especially the ones that have been detailed above.

But there are some really nice alternative options listed below for you that are worth taking a look at.

Sale
Spalding Excel TF-500 Indoor-Outdoor Basketball 29.5"
  • RAISE YOUR GAME: Sponge backing and tacky feel creates maximum grip and handling.
  • SHOOTER’S TOUCH: Spalding Shooter’s Seam is designed for instant ball recognition, exceptional control, and precise accuracy.
  • ALL SURFACE PLAY: From the driveway to the gym and everywhere in between.
Spalding NBA Zi/O Indoor-Outdoor Baskeball 29.5"
  • Official NBA size and weight: Size 7, 29.5 inch
  • Zi/O Tournament composite cover
  • Foam backed design for excellent feel
Spalding NBA Tack-Soft Indoor-Outdoor Basketball 29.5"
  • Official NBA size and weight: Size 7, 29.5 inches
  • Premium composite cover
  • Shipped inflated and game-ready

Factors to consider when purchasing a Spalding basketball

Before you take your wallet out of your pocket and buy the basketball you’ve shortlisted, there are certain intrinsic and extrinsic factors that you need to be aware of.

Indoor or outdoor play

before buying a spalding basketball - consider indoor or outdoor play

Deciding on where the basketball is going to be used is very critical.

As you should know, basketballs perform differently depending on the surface that they’re used on.

For instance, a cheap rubber basketball should not be expected to give a consistent bounce on a surface like hardwood.

So, you must take into account where you are playing before settling on a basketball, as these products are designed either for indoor play, outdoor play or a hybrid mix of both.

The last thing you’d want to go ahead and do is purchase an indoor basketball when you only have access to the court at the local park!

Ball size

before buying a spalding basketball - consider ball size

Another thing that also matters is how big or small your basketball is.

Because a younger player in their early teenage years is likely to have a much more difficult time trying to dribble and shoot a basketball that’s of official size.

Official size basketballs are wider and heavier, making them a bit trickier to palm and handle for younger children.

Therefore, you should consider the sort of size you want your basketball to be based on the age of the participants who will be using it.

Budget

Lastly, budget also comes into play.

If you have the money to spend on a premium basketball, then by all means go for the top-spec ones that cost a pretty penny.

You’ll find that such basketballs are NCAA and NFHS approved as well, meaning that they perform admirably when it comes to things like bounce uniformity, roundness and air retention.

There’s a saying that cheap can sometimes become expensive, and this can be the case with a lower priced basketball that might not have all the durability bells and whistles that the costlier ones come equipped with.

At the end of the day, you want your basketball to last for as long as possible.

And that may mean saving up a bit longer to buy a premium basketball instead of scouring the bargain basement.

But most importantly, take your budget into account by only spending what you can afford.

Are Spalding basketballs any good?

Clearly Spalding basketballs are some of the best around.

The market is filled with basketballs of all sorts of colors and specifications, but there’s a reason why the Spalding brand has thrived for so many years.

Having been a core part of NBA basketball for three decades has cemented their status as a top-quality manufacturer.

Spalding have a quality product offering which is only sometimes let down by the availability of their stock!

What that also tells you is that their basketballs are in high demand.

However, if Spalding basketballs don’t tickle your fancy, then you can check out our product roundup of the best Wilson basketballs, as they are a very viable brand alternative

Which Spalding basketball is best?

As we suggested at the start of the article, the Spalding Legacy TF-1000 Indoor Basketball is clearly the pick of the bunch.

It’s tailor made for the hardwood floor that we see NBA players glide on during matchdays.

About Content Man

Content Man 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.