India is a very important market for the NBA - Roy Hibbert

The former Philadelphia 76ers centre gives suggestions to Indian coaches in a virtual interaction as part of the Jr. NBA programme.

Former Philadelphia 76ers centre, Roy Hibbert. - GETTY IMAGES

The Jr. NBA programme for 2021 began on March 6 to develop basketball at a grassroots level. Unlike in the past, when players and coaches have been present on the ground to help young aspirants, the 2021 event has been forced to happen virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In its second week, former Philadelphia 76ers centre Roy Hibbert will be helping the kids understand the game better.

The 34-year-old pointed out India was a very important market for the NBA.

‘Dedicated fans’

“I think you guys are very important. There is a very large population here that loves basketball, you guys have dedicated fans. I am not sure what time most games come on, I assume it is either late at night or early in the morning, but when you have a fan base like that, you have to make sure you pay attention to them because they are consuming the product so well. I am hoping to get selected to go to India when the pandemic is over and give what I have to the kids.

“NBA wants to tap the Indian market. I am not sure if they have any NBA facilities for the future, but I assume that is on Adam Silver’s (NBA commissioner) mind once the pandemic slows down,” Hibbert said in a virtual media conference on Saturday.

Speaking about the challenges faced in sending the message across to the kids via the internet, Hibbert it was a new experience for him as well, but he would readily available for any queries that young players have for him.

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“When I did travel for the NBA in the summers I put everything into going into these sessions with these kids, just trying to share the knowledge in the way that the kids can absorb the information. This is one of the first times I am doing it via video conference, but I am going to be animated and if they have any questions, I will be able to answer them,” he said.

Importance of film work

One of the crucial aspects for any player is to have strong basics and citing the example of 76ers centre Joel Embiid, Hibbert said using film work and videos would be a good way for coaches in India to help younger players understand their game better.

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“When I was with the Philadelphia 76ers last year [player development coach], there was a lot of emphasis on film work. A lot of NBA players, like Joel Embiid, he has his own private workout guy, who watches all his clips, of all his shots, all his defensive things, they go over and watch his clips and break it down.

“I am not sure who has access to the videos, but I would say invest in that.  If I can break down five-six plays, show how to set it and show people how to get a bucket, that is the best thing to do. The other point is to be patient. The way coaches did it 10-15 years ago is not how they do it now. Be patient with the kids and sometimes they don’t want to watch films, but in the long run, it will work,” he said.

‘Education first’

Amid the growing temptation for parents to enroll children early, Hibbert said education must not be neglected.

“I will say this: Always have the opportunity to have sports, but pursue education. My parents are immigrants [Hibbert’s father is from Jamaica and mother is from Trinidad]. They were always like school first, then if you do well in school, you can do basketball. I don’t think my parents expected me to play in the NBA and the percentage of kids making it to the NBA is pretty low. You have to be pretty lucky, that is why I said education first,” he said.

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