NBA Considering Launching 12-Team League In India In Five Years
The Kings and Pacers on Friday played in the first NBA preseason game held in India, and Kings Owner Vivek Ranadive has talked to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver "about starting a 12-team professional basketball league" in the country, according to The Undefeated's Marc Spears. The venture would come from the "same vision as the upcoming NBA-run Basketball Africa League that begins play in 2020." Silver said there is "serious consideration to the launch of a league" in India. However, he indicated that arena infrastructure throughout the country "must be improved ... before a league could be launched." As an example of that, the league had to import a "hardwood basketball floor, scoreboard and more to the arena in Mumbai" for Pacers-Kings. Despite that, Silver indicated that he hopes to launch an India league "in 5 years" (TWITTER.com, 10/4). YAHOO SPORTS' Ben Weinrib notes while India has not produced an NBA player to date, the league "hopes it can be a pipeline to talent similar to other foreign countries." The two Pacers-Kings games may be the first live NBA action in India, but the league "has been promoting basketball initiatives in Mumbai since at least 2011" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 10/4).
TIMING IS EVERYTHING: ESPN.com's Manoj Bhagavatula noted the Pacers-Kings games are the "latest -- and most substantial -- of the NBA's efforts to popularize the sport" in India. NBA VP/Global Business Operations Diane Gotua has been in Mumbai for "about seven months now overseeing planning for the games." Gotua said, "We want to take over Mumbai. Not just Mumbai, we want the whole country to be talking about these games." She added that "'serious planning' for the games began in the past two years." Gotua: "A couple of trips were made by the respective staff of the Kings and the Pacers. The NBA league staff also came several times to do proper diligence." She "believes the timing for the NBA India Games is 'opportune.'" NBA games have been broadcast live in India since '11, with "over 350 games live on TV currently" (ESPN.com, 10/3).
PRIDE IN COUNTRY: In N.Y., Sopan Deb notes Ranadive has "made bringing the sport to his home country a core part of his identity as an owner, pitching it as a way to keep the NBA growing." He said, “If you think about basketball and you think about India, Indians love to celebrate. Indians love to party. Indians love Bollywood and showmanship" (N.Y. TIMES, 10/4). In Sacramento, Marcos Breton wrote the NBA's trip to India "doesn’t happen without Ranadive, whose connections to India ... made him a very attractive rich guy to run the Kings and help the NBA gain entry into a market they hope will become as lucrative as China and Europe." Ranadive: "This is a dream come true." Breton wrote Ranadive's words "seemed sincere and not canned or scripted" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 10/2).
CONSIDERABLE COVERAGE: THE ATHLETIC's Scott Agness noted "about 150 credentialed media members are expected at the pair of games, roughly twice the number who work a Pacers home game." In addition, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb is "there with members of the Indiana Economic Development Corporation" (THEATHLETIC.com, 10/3). INSIDESPORT.co's Shweta Agnihotri noted Indian actress Priyanka Chopra Jonas has been "roped in by NBA as the brand ambassador" for the games (INSIDESPORT.co, 10/3).