• At the 1996 Greater Hartford Open, Greg Norman was tied for fourth while playing a Maxfli XS 90. But the ball was mismarked, reading XS 9 instead. Unfortunately for Norman, there was no XS 9 on the USGA's list of conforming equipment, so the Shark was disqualified. At least Norman is not alone. Jeff Sluman was booted from the 2004 Buick Classic for playing a ball with no model markings, and Paul Azinger was bounced from the '09 Travelers for teeing up a mismarked ball.
• For the 2006--07 season the NBA replaced its traditional leather ball with one made from a synthetic microfiber. Players hated it, complaining that it was slippery and hard to palm and that it felt weird. Some even started getting small cuts on their fingers from the ball, and at one point Suns guard Steve Nash played with bandaged hands. The league brought back the original ball on Jan. 1, 2007.
• For the 2010 World Cup, Adidas designed a ball called the Jabulani, which was made from eight thermally bonded panels with very shallow seams. Players complained that the ball flew unpredictably, and later lab testing proved that at lower speeds it created aerodynamic anomalies similar to that of a knuckleball. During the tournament Nigeria's Yakubu Aiyegbeni missed a wide-open net from 10 feet and Ghana's Asamoah Gyan missed a penalty kick that many blamed on the ball.
• At the 2013 Madrid Open, Anabel Medina Garrigues of Spain was playing top-seeded powerhouse Serena Williams in the quarterfinals. During the match Medina Garrigues was seen on camera scuffing new balls against her racket to make them fuzzier, which would slow them down and negate Williams's advantage. Because the umpire didn't see what was happening, Medina Garrigues went unpenalized. Williams won anyway, 6--3, 0--6, 7--5.
• The latest known episode in baseball's long history of spit balls and scuffers came from Yankees righty Michael Pineda, who was caught putting pine tar on the ball during the second inning of a game against the Red Sox on April 23, 2014. The sticky substance allows pitchers to get a better grip and therefore put more spin on the ball. The Yanks lost 5--1, and Pineda was suspended for 10 games.
THEY SAID IT
"This is what happens when I pass too much!"
Lakers guard, tweeting that his team-leading 5.6 assists per game led to his torn right rotator cuff.
FIVE PHOTO ILLUSTRATIONS
PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY DWAYNE BERNARD, MEL LEVINE FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (GOLF BALL); NATHANIEL S. BUTLER/NBAE/GETTY IMAGES (BASKETBALL); CHIPSTUDIO/GETTY IMAGES (BLADE); SIMON BRUTY FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (SOCCER BALL); STEVE WISBAUER/GETTY IMAGES (TENNIS GEAR); CHARLIE NEIBERGALL/AP (BASEBALL); VETTA/GETTY IMAGES (THUMB PRINT)
BRACE HEMMELGARN/USA TODAY SPORTS (BRYANT)