NBA to play first-ever games in India

In a first, two NBA outfits - Sacramento Kings and Indiana Pacers - will play two pre-season games in Mumbai in October 2019.

Sacramento Kings' DeAaron Fox, who was the No. 5 overall draft pick in 2018, in action during an NBA clash.   -  AP

In a first, the National Basketball Association (NBA) announced on Thursday that the Sacramento Kings and Indiana Pacers will play two pre-season games in Mumbai on October 4 and 5 next year, marking the first NBA games to be played on Indian  soil.

The matches will be held games at the NSCI Dome in Worli, NBA Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum and NBA India Managing Director Yannick Colaco announced.

“Our inaugural NBA India Games will help further untap the enormous basketball potential in a country with a thriving sports culture and a growing, young and engaged population,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said.

“We thank the Kings and Pacers organisations for participating in this historic event,” he added.

In addition to the games, the league and its partners will conduct interactive fan activities, junior NBA youth basketball programming and NBA Cares community outreach events.

The Kings, under the leadership of the NBA’s first Indian-born majority owner and Mumbai native Vivek Ranadive, currently features 2018 No. 2 overall draft pick Marvin Bagley III, 2017 No. 5 overall draft pick DeAaron Fox and 2016 No. 6 overall draft pick Buddy Hield (Bahamas).

The Pacers roster currently features 2018 NBA All-Star Victor Oladipo, 2016 NBA All-Rookie second team member Myles Turner and 2016 No. 11 overall draft pick Domantas Sabonis (Lithuania).

“We are proud to be the first global sports league to bring games of this scale to India. The NBA and basketball have never been more popular in India, and fans will get to enjoy world-class showcases for our sport between two exciting teams in the Sacramento Kings and the Indiana Pacers,” said Colaco.

Ranadive said his team is looking forward to playing the first NBA game in India. “The Sacramento Kings are proud to be playing in the first NBA games ever held in India. As an Indian-American, it is an honour to help bring this historic moment to the country where I was raised,” said Ranadive.

“We are thrilled to be one of the first two teams to play the first-ever game in India and proud to be part of the expanding NBA worldwide footprint of our game of basketball,” said Pacers owner Herbert Simon.