NBA getting serious about India as market

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There has never been an NBA player born in India — which puts it behind even Egypt.

But India is the second most populous nation on the face of the earth and if David Stern is serious about globalization of the game — and he is — then India has to be targeted.

And it is, as the New York Times points out in an interesting Christmas Eve story. This goes beyond just Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol going to India this past summer to play ambassador — that was just the visible tip of the iceberg. (The photo to the right is Gasol dunking on an Indian youth, so he can know what it is like to be Timofey Mozgov.)

“The race is now on to become India’s second-most popular sport (behind cricket),” said Sunder Aaron, the head of Pix, one of two Indian television channels that earlier this month signed a new contract to broadcast live games and other N.B.A.-produced programming…

A core part of the N.B.A.’s expansion strategy in India is increasing grass-roots participation in the game, based on the argument that people who play basketball are also more likely to follow the N.B.A. The N.B.A. also knows that the more Indians who play basketball, the more likely it is that one day an Indian player will be good enough to make the leap to the N.B.A. itself — an event that could vastly expand the league’s popularity in the world’s second-most populous nation.

Of course, the real breakthrough for the NBA in India will be what the article calls the “Yao Ming moment” — when someone from India finally makes it to the NBA. That might be Satnam Singh Bhamara, a 7-foot 14-year-old from rural northern India. One of the NBA’s men on the ground in India found him and now is trying to get him into the IMG basketball academy in Florida.

But even without that, the story is an interesting one — India has an emerging middle class with disposable incomes, and every major sports league in the world is trying to figure out how to get a piece of that.

LeBron James rejects Giannis Antetokounmpo at the rim

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Through the first couple games of the season, Giannis Antetokounmpo has put up impressive numbers — he dropped 34 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists on the Cavaliers Friday night.

But the Cavaliers still have LeBron James.

He had 24 points and 8 assists, leading Cleveland to the win.

LeBron also reminded the Greek Freak just how good a rim protector he is. Few people can slow Antetokounmpo on the drive, but LeBron is one of them.

Is it too early to root for a Cavs vs. Bucks playoff series?

Hawks’ DeAndre’ Bembry out with fractured wrist

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In their season opener Wednesday, Atlanta second-year man DeAndre’ Bembry came off the bench and played 17:45, scored six points and was +13 on the night. It was a good start to his career.

But now he is going to miss some time with a fractured wrist.

Bembry underwent an MRI, which revealed a fracture in his right wrist, the Hawks announced Friday. He will return to Atlanta with the team (the Hawks lost to the Hornets Friday night) and will meet with team doctors at the Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center on Monday. His status will be updated after that.

“We just may play some other guys more, we may use some of the young guys,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer told the AP before Friday night’s game. “We’ll just figure it out tonight and as we move forward. I don’t think there’s anything guaranteed for anybody, it’s unfortunate for DeAndre’ and for us.”

 

Danny Ainge says Celtics will apply for Disabled Player Exception

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It’s not likely Gordon Hayward returns this season. His agent said as much, although a return in March is not out of the question. (It’s better PR wise for the Celtics to say he is out for the season, then if he returns early great, it’s better than setting a deadline he doesn’t meet.)

With that, the Celtics are going to apply for the Disabled Player Exception, which could help them land a replacement player, Danny Ainge told Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe.

President of basketball operations Danny Ainge told the Globe on Friday the club is applying for the Disabled Player Exception, which would provide the Celtics $8.4 million to pursue a player to fill Hayward’s roster spot.

“We’re in the process of doing that,’’ Ainge said. “We have a while to do that. There’s no urgency, but we will apply for that.”

There are limits to what that money can get the Celtics. The money is the same as the mid-level exception, the Celtics can go over the cap to use it, and the player can be obtained via free agency or trade. However, the player must be in the last year of his contract.

It gives the Celtics options. It also does not mean Hayward cannot return, it only means NBA-approved doctors determined he is not likely to return before a mid-June deadline.

Kings hire former WNBA Seattle coach Jenny Boucek as assistant

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The NBA now has a third female assistant coach.

The first was Becky Hammon, who has been part of Gregg Popovich’s Spurs staff for several years (and has coached their Summer League team). The second was Nancy Leiberman, who has been on the staff in Sacramento for a couple of seasons now.

Now the Kings have hired former Seattle Storm coach Jenny Boucek as an assistant coach on Dave Joerger’s staff. She will work as an assistant player development coach.

A former WNBA player in the league’s inaugural season, the past three years she has coached the WNBA’s Seattle Storm (she was fired midway through the last season), and prior to that had been the head coach of the Sacramento Monarchs from 2007-09.