India Rumors

Conditioning has been a question mark in terms of Bhullar establishing a legitimate NBA future. But he has a major supporter in Kings owner Vivek Ranadive — one of India’s most celebrated businessmen — and Bhullar has shed more than 30 pounds over the course of his rookie campaign after weighing in at more than 400 pounds during summer league play with Sacramento last July. Bhullar is averaging 10.3 points, 8.8 rebounds and 3.9 blocks in the D-League this season and, as evidence of his improving conditioning, logged 38 minutes Tuesday night in a Reno victory over Bakersfield, totaling 19 points, 15 boards and five blocks.
Ranadive, who made part of his fortune from TIBCO Software, a company he started in 1997, says that India holds unlimited potential. He and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver are leading a league mission there next month. Ranadive said he recently met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in advance of the mission. Asked whether India is ready for basketball, with its cramped cities, grinding poverty and near-devotion to cricket, Ranadive noted that India is rising faster than many realize. Makeshift courts are popping up across the country. “Basketball is a game that can be played anywhere, by anyone — rich, poor, boys and girls,” he said. “You don’t need a lot of space to play basketball, as you do with cricket. So I really think basketball is poised to take off.”
Like other NBA owners, Ranadive wants to develop a Chinese-language app for China to broaden his team’s fan base. Ranadive is a leading proponent of what he calls “NBA 3.0,” using technology to network fans and the team. His perfect app, he says would let fans see instant replays, crowd-source suggestions for the team and even deliver food and beverages to ticket holders at the press of a button.
Sim Bhullar became the first player of Indian descent to sign a contract with an NBA team Friday, inking a deal to join the Sacramento Kings in training camp. Terms of the contract were not disclosed. “I’ve long believed that India is the next great frontier for the NBA, and adding a talented player like Sim only underscores the exponential growth basketball has experienced in that nation,” said Kings owner Vivek Ranadive, the league’s first Indian-born majority owner. “While Sim is the first player of Indian descent to sign with an NBA franchise, he represents one of many that will emerge from that region as the game continues to garner more attention and generate ever-increasing passion among a new generation of Indian fans.”
How would you describe the time you’ve spent in Sacramento? “It’s a big city, it’s a nice city and I really enjoyed my couple of days I was there. I would definitely like playing in Sacramento – being in that market without a whole lot of distractions.” What would it mean to you to become the first player of Indian descent to play in the NBA? “It would be big – not just for me, but for the whole country and my community back home. To have the first Indian in the NBA and be one in one billion at this level would be crazy.”
How would you describe your roots and decision to attend New Mexico State? Sim Bhullar: “I was born in Toronto. My parents are from India – they came over [to Canada] about 30 years ago. I was originally supposed to go to Xavier [but instead] went to New Mexico State, where I knew the assistant there, Paul Weir. We had a good relationship – he’s from Toronto. He brought me out there and I had fun – I had a good two years there.”
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Karan Madhok: I don’t believe that India yet has the infrastructure to support an NBA game, even an exhibition (http://hoopistani.blogspot.jp/2013/09/an-nba-exhibition-game-in-india-next.html). But Vivek Ranadive, the Indian owner of the Kings, has expressed interest in bringing the Kings to India for a pre-season game sometime soon. Whenever it happens, I expect Ranadive and the Kings to be involved.
NBA announces plans to expand broadcast partnership in India: Some quotes from the press release the league sent out this morning on expanding their television reach in India… Prasan Krishnan, head of business at Sony Six: “Sport is flourishing around the world with basketball leading the way due to its broad appeal and accessibility to viewers everywhere. This enhanced offering will give the fans a chance to watch their favorite team and stars consistently throughout the season. We are confident that our approach will open up an enormous opportunity in the ‘Breakfast’ time space for capturing viewership.”
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And it’s only natural to wonder when the Kings might play in India, considering principal owner Vivek Ranadive has stated he wants to make center DeMarcus Cousins a superstar in India, Ranadive’s birthplace. Coach Michael Malone would not be surprised to see the Kings play in India in the coming years. “(Ranadive has) said many, many times he wants to be a global brand,” Malone said. “With his background in India, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Sacramento Kings playing a game there in the foreseeable future. It’s an untapped market.”
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Summer vacation for NBA players isn’t always just about sun, fun and luxury accommodations. Sometimes there is a different element involved. Sometimes a trip can provide a deeper understanding of things, some enlightenment, if you are up for it. Miami Heat Chris Bosh and his family were game for just that when they traveled Mumbai, India, this summer. It was a journey captured on video by the two-time NBA champion, who mixed a little NBA business with pleasure on his trip (#NAMASTE Part I):
NBA Legends Horace Grant, Ron Harper and Peja Stojakovic, who collectively have won 10 NBA Championships, will participate in NBA Jam. The event will feature the largest 3-on-3 tournament ever held in India and include a National Finals televised on SONY SIX. The traveling interactive basketball festival combines exciting on-court competition with concerts by well-known local musicians and authentic NBA entertainment and experiences for fans of all ages.
Bosh has been to China several times, as an Olympian and with the Heat, as well as on promotional tours. A renaissance man whose curiosity ranges far from the court, he was intrigued by the prospect of experiencing the other Asian giant. “I’m always interested in traveling the world, and any opportunity that comes up to spread the game of basketball and travel, I think that is the best of both,” Bosh said in a phone interview with the Sun Sentinel during his four days in Mumbai as special emissary of the NBA. “People are aware [of basketball.] Not as aware as China, but I think the love of the game is growing here. A lot of people here are interested in basketball. There are a lot of Heat fans. They were watching the Finals. They asked me a lot of questions about LeBron [James]. You can just tell that the game has a chance to really grow here.”
Two-time defending National Basketball Association (NBA) Champion and eight-time All-Star Chris Bosh, of the Miami Heat, will travel to Mumbai, India from July 16-19 to conduct a variety of events to continue the growth of the game and connect with NBA fans locally. Bosh will be the 22nd NBA or WNBA player or legend to travel to India since 2006. “I am excited for the chance to visit India and help build interest in the game I love,” said Bosh. “The NBA is a global game and I hear that basketball is becoming pretty popular over there so I am looking forward to teaching kids that may end up in our league one day.”
With an increasing number of foreign players making to the top in the professional basketball league, National Basketball Association (NBA) Commissioner David Stern Monday said an Indian hoopster could be seen playing in the league in the next five years. “We already had a woman (Geetu Anna Jose) try out for WNBA and we would expect to have men and women showing up for each of our professional leagues. If you need a specific answer, I would say five years,” Stern told reporters here on his maiden visit to India.
Wilkins, the Naismith Memorial Hall of Famer who accompanied the Atlanta Hawks on their tour of the Soviet Union in the late 1980s, believes popularizing the sport in India will be more incremental than explosive. “I went with Basketball Without Borders for its first visit in 2008,” said Wilkins, “and it was a very different experience than the Soviet Union of 30 years ago. Russia, even when the wall was coming down, all the Cold War stuff, was much more familiar with the game. But then when I went back to India again two years ago, I definitely could sense a difference. It’s not leaps and bounds, but I think the access to information, social media, the Internet, getting more NBA games on television is changing things.”
Silver, 50, said Stern was planning a trip to India next month. “Another country of over a billion people with a young population that loves basketball.” He said the NBA is working with Brooklyn Nets Russian owner Mikhail Prokhorov and the Russian government to further grow basketball there as well as projects to develop the game more on the continent of Africa. Silver said he believed establishing teams outside the United States was part of the NBA’s future, but remained in the conceptual stage. “When we do expand, we’d need to expand probably with multiple teams, so that you wouldn’t have an orphan team in Europe, but that you’d potentially have a division so those teams could play each other more often and NBA teams presumably traveling in Europe could have more teams to play when they’re over there,” said Silver. “It’s still a concept, but I’m comfortable with it.”