“I think we’re probably a couple years away, but not five years away,” Ranadive told ESPN at the site of this weekend’s All-Star Game. “There are facilities that could work. We just have to get them to an NBA level. I fully expect that in the next two or three years, we will be able to do that.”
Ranadive envisions the Kings playing a game at Indira Gandhi Arena in Delhi, holding an open outdoor practice in front of the Taj Mahal, putting on youth clinics and participating in a sports, music and cultural festival in Mumbai. Additionally, he said staging another international game on the same trip is a possibility, mentioning Dubai as a host candidate.
This talent search is among several initiatives launched in India in recent years by the NBA as it tries to broaden its fan base globally. NBA officials consider the India market key to expanding the brand outside the United States — the “next frontier,” as NBA Commissioner Adam Silver called it. Since 2011, the NBA has signed a broadcast deal for games with an Indian sports channel, hosted three-on-three basketball tournaments and fairs, and partnered with the charitable Reliance Foundation for a junior program in schools that has reached 1 million students.
The league’s representatives say the combination of a growing economy, an emerging, globally minded middle class and the country’s young demographic make India a natural target for expansion. India has more than 350 million people between the ages of 10 and 24, according to a U.N. report. “That’s the number that stands out for all of us, “ said Yannick Colaco, a former college player and the managing director of NBA India. “We’re seeing just so much of vibrancy and diversity that we feel a sport like basketball has tremendous potential.”
“India has long been a priority market for us. We don’t expect overnight changes but we are definitely here for the long haul. We are also looking to invest tens of millions of dollars in India. Our focus is to grow the game of basketball in India”, said Yannick Colaco, CEO of NBA in India, while describing his vision for the NBA’s plans in India.