Words to describe a basketball include "orange," "spherical," "bouncy," "grainy" and "rubbery." The game of basketball was invented in 1891 by Dr. James Naismith, and a soccer ball was used before the basketball itself was invented. Naismith asked A.G. Spalding & Bros. to develop the first basketball in 1894.
Naismith, a physical education teacher at a small college in Springfield, Mass., described the ball as "large, light and handled with the hands." A typical basketball is 29 to 31 inches in circumference and weighs 20 to 22 ounces for men and 18 to 20 ounces for women. Early versions of the ball were made by hand, causing size to vary from ball to ball.
The modern version of the basketball is mass-produced by bonding sheets of material together with an attached valve through vulcanization into a sphere that retains air after inflation. The winding for the ball is made with nylon and polyester. The winding protects and reinforces the bladder to help it maintain its true shape. Ball covers are attached to the winding and vulcanized to form the uniformly pebbled exterior. These covers are made with a combination of natural and butyl rubber. The natural rubber creates a better bounce, while the butyl rubber is more durable. Butyl rubber also helps the ball retain more air.