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Spalding Crisis Management 101:

Spalding Crisis Management 101:

I must say I continue to be very impressed with the way Spalding is handling this NBA ball recall thing. Talk about taking the high road. This afternoon, I checked out the Spalding Web site to see this:

Based upon the NBA’s decision to switch back to a leather Game Ball starting January 1st, Spalding is offering a full refund to consumers who have purchased and want to return the 2-panel microfiber composite NBA Game Ball.

To claim your full refund ($115 in total per ball -- $100 for the retail value of the ball and $15 to cover previously paid taxes and shipping charges back to Spalding), please follow the below 2 steps:

1. Call 1-800-SPALDING or click here to receive a Return Authorization number by phone or e-mail.

2. Ship the microfiber composite NBA Game Ball, along with your name, address, telephone number, Return Authorization code and copy of your sales receipt (if available) to:

Spalding
Attn: Consumer Returns/NBA Game Ball
150 Brookdale Drive
Springfield, MA 01104

If you have specific questions, feel free to call us at 1-800-SPALDING. This refund offer is valid through January 31, 2007. Please allow 3 to 4 weeks for processing of your refund.

We apologize for any inconvenience this Game Ball switch may have caused you. Thank you for your patience and understanding.

Spalding

All I will say is wow. That could be a lot of money to give back. But it’s also a way to make sure your brand won’t alienate future consumers. With that plan, I’m betting anyone who returns the basketball goes back and buys the old leather basketball made by Spalding.

By the way, all the retailers that sold the ball will get to keep the money from the sale.

We knew this was coming….

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is upset with the NBA ball going back to leather. Here are the best excerpts from a letter than we obtained, written by Dan Shannon, PETA’s manager of campaigns:

“PETA would like to offer a lifetime supply of cruelty-free hand cream to any NBA siss …. Excuse me, superstar who’d be willing to give the composite ball another shot….The hand cream comes in a variety of scents, including 'Filthy Rich Organic' (perfect for any overpaid millionaire)."

"Shaq, as one of the players who has been most critical of the composite ball, perhaps you’ll volunteer to be our test case - since you’ve only played four games all season, surely you have time to work a moisturizing routine into your schedule. Or LeBron, maybe you’re interested. The NCAA has used the composite ball for years - so it’s not only an education that you missed out on. Maybe you just need some more time to adjust."

"In the interest of sparing thousands of cows a hideous, unnecessary death, please consider this suggestion.”

Fewer Rushing For Tiki:

On Sunday, Tiki Barber might have become the 21st player to run for more than 10,000 yards, but his jersey sales seem to be slowing. One retailer with a large chain has told us that Giants fans who come into his New Jersey store look at the wall of Giants jerseys and can no longer bring themselves to spend money on Barber, given that the Giants running back has already said he is retiring at the end of the year. While they might be less popular, we’re told that no retailer has actually cancelled orders for Barber jerseys.

The New Ball Everyone Is Talking About:

Rarely does a Saturday Night Live skit become a true commercial opportunity. Gatorade certainly isn’t going to make a Cookie Dough flavor. And General Mills isn’t coming out with Colon Blow cereal (even though it does have the fiber equivalent of 30,000 bowls of cereal in just one serving). And no, we don’t know of any baseball players that have used a product called Flex, the deodorant infused with steroids. That being said, not everything is off limits.

Many years ago on Saturday Night Live, there was this skit called Delicious Dish. Where two fictional NPR radio hosts, Margaret Jo McCullen and Terry Rialto, talked about their favorite holiday recipes. They brought on the owner of a holiday bakery called Season’s Eatings, Pete Schwetty, which was played by Alec Baldwin. In one of my favorite segments of all time, Baldwin talked about how his company makes balls - popcorn, cheese and rum. His big line was, “No one can resist my Schwetty Balls.”

I’m telling you this story because there’s a golf ball company now called Schwetty Balls. They sell these things by the dozen for $22.95.

I spoke with the brand’s founder Glen Head who said, “I was surprised that there was no trademarks on the name.” So Head - who is a newspaper publisher in Benton Harbor, Michigan -- filed for a trademark, which was registered in April of this year. “Apparently the word ‘Schwetty didn’t exist in the U.S. Trademark and Patent Office database,” Head said. The product is still in its infancy, though it did get Martin’s PGA Superstore -- which has six store locations on the East Coast.

Questions? Comments? SportsBiz@cnbc.com

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