Indians in NBA? Durant says patience is the key

“It's on us NBA players to inspire new basketball players...I think the buzz around basketball here is just growing. Just be patient and we will see more,” Warriors forward Kevin Durant said.

NBA star Kevin Durant works with the trainees of the NBA Academy during a basketball clinic at the Jaypee Greens sports complex in Greater Noida on Friday.   -  Special Arrangement

He may be an eight-time NBA All-Star and twice MVP but on Friday, at the NBA Academy in Greater Noida, Kevin Durant was all about shooting hoops and mingling with the kids and guiding the first batch of trainees in having fun with basketball.

The Golden State Warrior forward, on his maiden visit to India, restricted himself to talking about the sport and his excitement in coming here, but admitted there was a long way to go for basketball to make any sort of serious inroads in the country and hoped there would be an Indian in the most popular basketball league in the world sooner than later.

“I haven't played cricket before but I know how deep the sport is in the culture here. It will take some time for basketball to take over. But we had to start somewhere and this is a great start. We want to keep growing the game and see more and more kids start playing,” the 6-feet-10 Durant said in a brief interaction with the media on the sidelines of his basketball clinic at the Academy here.

  • Kevin Durant arrived in Greater Noida on Thursday and attended a glamour-party by Abhishek Bachchan that included the likes of Virender Sehwag, Bhamra and Vijay Amritraj in the evening. If Friday was all about basketball, the third and final day of his maiden tour to India is likely to see him visit the Taj Mahal to round off the visit.

While he arrived in the city on Thursday and attended a glamour-party by Abhishek Bachchan that included the likes of Virender Sehwag, Bhamra and Vijay Amritraj in the evening, Friday was all about basketball. The third and final day of his maiden tour to India is likely to see him visit the Taj Mahal to round off the visit.

Basketball students and Kevin Durant during their record-making practice session at the NBA Academy, Jaypee Greens sports complex, in Greater Noida on Friday.   -  Special Arrangement

 

But asked about the possibility of Indians making the cut in the NBA — only Palpreet Singh Brar and Satnam Singh Bhamara — have managed to get picked up in drafts so far and found a place in the Development League – the 28-year old Durant said the country needed to be patient. “It's on us NBA players to inspire new basketball players, players that haven't really enjoyed the game before. It's on us and you guys (the media) to show them what the game is all about. I think the buzz around basketball here is just growing. Just be patient and we will see more. It's a great market and a great place to be in,” he said.

Having won the NBA Championship with the Warriors last year, Durant is concentrating more on working on his fitness at the moment, preparing for the upcoming season. “There are a lot of young players coming through so excited to see them in the league,” he said. Durant has also donated for two basketball courts here through the Kevin Durant Charity Foundation.

He later got together with 831 kids here, along with others spread across Kolkata, Hyderabad, Chennai and Bengaluru for a total of 3,459 kids – in a new Guinness record for simultaneous practice session. The previous record was around 600 children.