Exactly a week after the Golden State Warriors put an exclamation point on the NBA’s 75th Anniversary season by defeating the Boston Celtics in the Finals, the basketball association's senior director of social media, Ashley Atwell, revealed the backstory of how a bedazzled basketball became the unofficial mascot for NBA 75.
It all started with a fresh take on the NBA's iconic NBA logo, which features a silhouette of former LA Laker and Hall of Famer Jerry West. For the league's diamond anniversary season, the NBA "Logoman" was reimagined in the center of a blue and red diamond with the number 75 superimposed over facets rendered to mimic the seams of a basketball.
“It was the NBA’s diamond season, so we took that theme of the diamond logo while creating the ball,” Atwell told NBA.com. “The idea was sparked because we previously used the bedazzled ball at an award show. 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.”
All the draftees who were in Brooklyn last July got to take a pic with the gem-encrusted ball. And slowly but surely, the ball started making appearances everywhere.
It appeared at the G League Winter Showcase, NBA All-Star Weekend, Formula One Grand Prix and NBA venues throughout the country. There was so many requests for the ball that the league decided to create eight additional promotional balls to fill the demand.
We're guessing that the white, red, blue and black stones affixed to the "diamond" balls are actually glass crystals.
Atwell challenged fans to search for the NBA 75th Anniversary ball on Tik Tok, Instagram or Twitter. The results will be collection of celebrities, players and fans of all ages posing with 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.’"
Atwell said that actor Kevin Hart was the first to post to IG a picture of himself with the ball. Then there was a photo of former Indiana Pacers star Reggie Miller sharing the ball with actor-director (and NY Knicks fan) Spike Lee.
"The ball has become the face of the 75th anniversary, especially on social media," said Atwell. "It’s a big part of the campaign. I don’t think I realized that was going to happen."
Atwell said that she remembers pitching the diamond ball idea in preparation of the 75th anniversary season. At the time, she said, it seemed insignificant in the grand scheme of things.
Now, in retrospect, she acknowledged that the diamond ball evolved into one of the biggest fan-facing initiatives of the season.
"It’s helped us carry the campaign all season long," she said. "And bring these generations together – fans and players.”
Credits: Houston Rockets rookie Jalen Green with the 75th anniversary ball, photo courtesy of the NBA. Logos via NBA.com.