Harrison Barnes: NBA pre-season games to be a 'great experience' for Indian fans

Sacramento Kings' new recruit hopes fans will witness the “energy and intensity of the game itself, in person.”

Harrison Barnes in Dharavi, Mumbai, during his visit to India. Photo: Special Arrangement

Harrison Barnes, Sacramento Kings' new recruit, expects Indian basketball fans to be thrilled when his team takes on Indiana Pacers at the NSCI here for two NBA pre-season matches — on October 4 and October 5, 2019.

They will be the first-ever NBA pre-season matches to be held in India.

“So far the visit [to India] has been great. I am looking forward to coming back to be part of the team [in the pre-season NBA games]. I want to let [the Indian fans] see the energy and intensity of the game itself, in person,” the 26-year-old Iowa-born Barnes said during his first visit to the country. I have just been around the kids (young basketball players). They are going to be happy and excited to see the game in person. That will be a great experience,” he said.

Barnes has already attended the Reliance Foundation Junior NBA National Finals at The NBA Academy India in New Delhi. And he is excited to see the talent. “This is not the end of the story, making the India team (to take part in a NBA event in Orlando, U.S.). Love of the game should be the most important thing,” he said.

'Humbling' Olympics experience

A winner of the NBA title with Golden State Warriors in 2015, Barnes was part of the U.S. team which won the gold-medal at the Rio Olympic Games in 2016.

“Olympics was a great experience. It was humbling. It was a different type of experience,” said Barnes, who played for Warriors from 2012-2016 before switching over to Dallas Mavericks and then to his current team. “The opportunity to represent your country in the world’s biggest stage was really big,” admitted Barnes.

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During the Olympics, he bumped into sprint icon, Usain Bolt. “I had a chance to see Usain Bolt live. We split up — me and Klay Thompson (of Warriors) went to see Bolt and some others [in the U.S. basketball team] went to see [swimming legend] Michael Phelps,” he recalled.

Having signed up for Sacramento, he is excited. “I have had a great time with [my team-mates]. It is an opportunity to continue to grow and develop some of them who are 18, 19, 20-years-old,” he said.

He welcomed the addition of 3/3 basketball to the Olympic programme next year at Tokyo. “It is great for basketball, to enable young kids to learn. Basketball is a great game in all its versions. That will be the goal that it (3/3) takes on a life of its own,” he added.

Barnes spoke about his other sporting interests. “I am a soccer fan, a Barcelona fan. I follow that. I watch anything — [track-and-field], tennis. [Rafael] Nadal is my favourite in tennis. I don’t know why, [perhaps] because of the energy and passion he shows,” he said.