Did you know that early basketballs had laces? They had to be unlaced, pumped up, tested, and re-laced repeatedly until the air pressure of the rubber bladder inside was just right.

These balls evolved to include external air pump holes, but the laces remained until the 1930s, when laceless designs were first introduced.

An early laced basketball

The version shown in this early advertisement was a Spalding No. M Official Basket Ball. Spalding, Reach, Rawlings, and other manufacturers each had multiple versions of basketballs. Spalding introduced the first laceless designs in 1932.

Official basketballs were slightly larger once then they are today and sometimes they were nicknamed “pumpkins.” Palming the ball was so rare that few players did it. The practice rarely made sense anyway, since it was against the rules for a player to shoot the ball if he had already dribbled.

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