“Stone Age technology,” some boo. “Bog slow!” others bray. “Ugly!” jeer all as one. Our own Brock Yates said they look like “pumpkin seeds.” And they do.
Now in its third season, Daytona Prototype, the marquee attraction of the Grand American Road Racing Association’s Rolex Sports Car Series, has been received with booming skepticism. The brainchild of Jim France (of the you-know-who NASCAR Frances), Daytona Prototype is a jab in the eye to traditionalists. The cars are revolutionary in their way, but purists may prefer a shorter form of the word—revolting. Yet at Daytona’s Rolex 24 in February, these pumpkin seeds delivered some of the best American sports-car racing ever.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. First, a little history.
Basketball can make a true claim to being the only major sport that is an American invention. From high school to the professional level, basketball attracts a large following for live games as well as television coverage of events like the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) annual tournament and the National Basketball Association (NBA) and Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) playoffs. And it has also made American heroes out of its player and coach legends like Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Sheryl Swoopes, and other great players.
At the heart of the game is the playing space and the equipment. The space is a rectangular, indoor court. The principal pieces of equipment are the two elevated baskets, one at each end (in the long direction) of the court, and the basketball itself. The ball is spherical in shape and is inflated. Basket-balls range in size from 28.5-30 in (72-76 cm) in circumference, and in weight from 18-22 oz (510-624 g). For players below the high school level, a smaller ball is used, but the ball in men’s games measures 29.5-30 in (75-76 cm) in circumference, and a women’s ball is 28.5-29 in (72-74 cm) in circumference. The covering of the ball is leather, rubber, composition, or synthetic, although leather covers only are dictated by rules for college play, unless the teams agree otherwise. Orange is the regulation color. At all levels of play, the home team provides the ball.
Inflation of the ball is based on the height of the ball’s bounce. Inside the covering or casing, a rubber bladder holds air. The ball must be inflated to a pressure sufficient to make it rebound to a height (measured to the top of the ball) of 49-54 in (1.2-1.4 m) when it is dropped on a solid wooden floor from a starting height of 6 ft (1.80 m) measured from the bottom of the ball. The factory must test the balls, and the air pressure that makes the ball legal in keeping with the bounce test is stamped on the ball. During the intensity of high school and college tourneys and the professional playoffs, this inflated sphere commands considerable attention.