Tag: India


NBA getting serious about India as market


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.

NBA eyes the Indian market, delegates Pau Gasol as a league ambassador

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As basketball becomes more and more of an international game, the NBA continues to look for opportunities to expand its base. Exhibition games have been played in several other countries (Mexico, the U.K., China), broadcasts are translated and sent out all over the world, and the NBA hosts all kinds of events across almost every continent in its expansion.

Obviously, big markets catch the NBA’s eye. While there’s something to be said about increasing the appeal of the game and popularizing basketball in new countries (and the way those countries would impact the game’s evolution as a result — think the popularity of basketball in Europe has impacted the NBA at all?), these decisions to spread the league’s good word across the world are financial in nature. There are a lot of people not wearing LeBron’s Heat jersey that could be, a lot of television viewers that could be watching but aren’t, and plenty of page views that the dotcom could be getting but isn’t.

China tops the list in terms of national population, and the NBA is off to a roaring start there. Next? India, which has a population of some 1.2 billion people, plenty of whom don’t even know how much they need the NBA just yet. Luckily for them, the league is headed that way to market the hell out of itself. Pau Gasol will headline NBA Cares events in multiple Indian cities next week, including a clinic for underprivileged children and one for the participants in the Mahindra NBA Challenge (explained below). From the release:

The league is in the midst of hosting a record number of events in India this summer. Gasol, a member of the two-time defending champion Los Angeles Lakers, is the second NBA superstar to visit India this month following Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard’s visit to Bangalore and Delhi from Aug. 10 to 14.

“I have always wanted to visit India and I am very excited to represent the Lakers and the NBA in a country where basketball is on the rise,” said Gasol.  “As an international player in the NBA, I know how important it is to do my part to grow the game globally and would love to compete against a player from India in the NBA one day.”

Gasol will make appearances with the Larry O’Brien Trophy to take photos with fans in Mumbai and Delhi.  This will be the first time that the trophy will be in India.  He will also conduct clinics in Mumbai on Aug. 26 for participants of the Mahindra NBA Challenge, the league’s first community-based basketball league in India, which tipped off in Mumbai, Bangalore, and Ludhiana this summer and attracted thousands of participants, including top players from each city. 

Bollywood basketball in the rain — all we need is Dwight Howard


Hey, are you like, checkin’ me out?

Dwight Howard is headed to India to promote the NBA in a country where basketball is the sport you play as a child, until you grow up and play cricket like real men.

Unless it is a sexy basketball scene in the rain, then Bollywood is good with it. Clearly, this means Dwight must don the bandanna and play in a monsoon. Like a real man. (Thanks to Eric Freeman of The Baseline for finding this and making our day.)

NBA sending Dwight Howard to India to make basketball the next cricket


Thumbnail image for Howard_game.jpgChina is the world’s most populous country, and the NBA has made very public efforts to woo that country. Including the Rockets and Nets going to play a couple preseason games this October.

India is the second most populous country on the planet, but the NBA has largely ignored them.

Until now. The league announced Wednesday that Dwight Howard is going to do a goodwill or India, including working with that country’s national team in advance of the Asia Games this summer.

He also will conduct coaching and player clinics for Mahindra NBA Challenge participants, the NBA’s first community league in India. There is an NBA Fan Jam there as well.

Apparently, basketball is a sport a lot of people in India play in their youth but don’t really follow as they get older. Sort of how much of America treats soccer. It doesn’t seem to get the blood going in India. Cricket does, because who doesn’t love a good five-day test? Field hockey, badminton and of course soccer are popular. But basketball has a long way to go.

Sending Dwight Howard there is the first step. But this is going to be a longer, harder struggle than it has been in China. There are no players from India in the NBA (it’s doubtful there are any ready for major Division I college ball). It is going to take many years of sending players, hosting clinics, finding ways to put the game at its highest levels in front of people.

Sending Howard is a good start.