The NBA is a global brand, the highest level of basketball played anywhere on the globe. The NBA owners see growth potential in that (read: $$$$) and so the NBA has made a conscious push into China, Europe, Mexico and other markets around the globe, often bringing preseason games to those countries (or, in Mexico City, regular season games).
Now add India to the list.
The Indiana Pacers and Sacramento Kings — a team owned by Indian-American Vivek Ranadive — will play the first two NBA games ever in India next preseason. The games will be played Oct. 4 and 5 at the NSCI Dome in Mumbai.
“The Sacramento Kings are proud to be playing in the first NBA games ever held in India,” Ranadive said. “As an Indian-American, it is an honor to help bring this historic moment to the country where I was raised. The sport is experiencing tremendous growth in India and we are excited about continuing to expand the NBA’s reach to fans across the globe. The world wants to watch basketball and India is a fast-growing new frontier.”
Ranadive bought the Kings in 2013, keeping the team from moving to Seattle, and since then has worked to grow the sport in his native land. He has helped arrange the broadcast nearly 140 Kings games in India, he has promoted the team on social media such as Facebook (535,000 likes for the Kings), and he has brought a Bollywood night to Sacramento.
For the NBA trying to grow a fan base in India, this cannot be just a game, there will be interactive fan activities, Jr. NBA youth basketball programming and NBA Cares community outreach events. The game also will be broadcast live in India.