4. The NBA goes to India
The NBA recently announced that the Sacramento Kings and Indiana Pacers will play two preseason games in Mumbai next October — the league’s first-ever games in India.
- In order to grasp the magnitude of this, I spoke with Kings owner Vivek Ranadivé, who was born and raised in India.
Kendall Baker: It's no secret that basketball is on the rise in India. Just how popular has the sport become?
- Vivek Ranadivé: Thanks to the NBA's efforts over the last few years, basketball is now the second-fastest growing sport in India, behind soccer, among both boys and girls. There’s a certain attitude involved that reminds me of Bollywood and cricket culture, and I think the sport's popularity will only grow in years to come.
KB: In 2014, Sim Bhullar became the first player of Indian descent to play in the NBA. The following year, Indian-born Satnam Singh was drafted in the second round. How big of an impact did those milestones have?
- VR: Both players helped break barriers and open doors for the next generation. This past November, Sanjana Ramesh, a graduate of the NBA Academy in India, became the second Indian player ever to receive a Division I women's basketball scholarship (Northern Arizona University).
KB: How did the idea for the NBA India Games come together?
- VR: India is the next frontier for basketball. That's why the NBA opened its first office in Mumbai in 2011, and it's why players have been visiting the region since 2006. These games are the next logical step, and we're honored to be part of it.
P.S. The Kings hosted their sixth annual Bollywood Night on Saturday. Fans were treated to traditional Indian dance performances, free henna tattoos and an NBA-record 41 three-pointers (box score).
🚨In other NBA news: The Minnesota Timberwolves fired team president and coach Tom Thibodeau last night (minutes after a 22-point win).