The Spalding TF-1000 is a basketball that many older players will bring up as their favorite ball of all time. Sure, it might have a bit to do with feelings of nostaligia, but there is no denying that it was a quality ball. For whatever reason, Spalding decided to stop production of the TF-1000 a while back and it didn’t take long for Wilson to become the number one manufacturer of composite leather balls.
To the delight of many, Spalding announced the reintroduction of the TF-1000, this time in the form of the TF-1000 Classic. While Spalding promised that the beloved ZK composite cover was back, unfortunately, the ball doesn’t quite live up to its expectations.
The TF-1000 Classic (there is also the TF-1000 Legacy, which is very similar) is priced around the $50 mark, which is fairly typical for an indoor basketball. That pits it against the likes of the Wilson Evolution, Baden Elite and The Rock to name a few. So, we would expect a fairly similar feel to the cover.
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Instead, the TF-1000 Classic feels quite cheap. It is tacky out of the box but doesn’t feel anywhere near as soft as the other indoor balls and feels rubbery by comparison.
The bounce is also comparatively flat. That can become a problem as you don’t want to be pumping the ball up too much since that reduces the softness of the ball.
One area where the TF-1000 Classic does well is durability. In fact, the original TF-1000 was a ball that wore down quickly, and Spalding intentionally redesigned the ZK Composite cover with improved durability in mind. However, if it turns out that those design modifications are the cause for its inferior grip and feel, then was the change really justified? After all, if we’re going for durability, we’d just go with an outdoor basketball, right?
Even the design is somewhat disappointing. The original TF-1000 has a kind of vintage look by today’s standard, but the TF-1000 makes it blatantly obvious that this is a reintroduced version with the addition of the word ‘classic’.
Overall the TF-1000 Classic is a big disappointment, especially for those die-hard fans of the original. It almost feels like Spalding are milking the name while pushing out an inferior product. Other indoor basketballs in the same price category handle and bounce much better, and the new design doesn’t do the original much justice.
Hopefully Spalding can once again become a serious option for composite leather basketballs. Right now they are doing well pushing cheaper rubber basketballs as well as the top-end genuine leather official NBA game ball, but have little to offer the average player. The TF-1000 Classic certainly doesn’t fill that spot.
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