Ramez Sheikh, Managing Director, NBA Asia and India, believes that it is only a matter of time before India produces an NBA star.
“It’s a matter of time (before India produces an NBA star). The pandemic had halted a lot of our on-ground activities in India. But now that we have resumed our grassroots infrastructure programs in India, we are optimistic,” Sheikh said in a media interaction here on Saturday.
Sheikh cited NBA Academy India graduate Amaan Sandhu as an example of the nation taking the right steps towards achieving the big goal. Sandhu recently became the first male Indian basketball player to commit to a NCAA Division 1 college (Monmouth University).
“There has been Indian talent that has played in the NBA G League. One of our academy graduates, Sandhu, has signed to play Division I college basketball in the USA. So we are beginning to see incremental progress. We’re seeing talent emerging from India,” Sheikh said.
“It is part of our responsibility to create local programmes to inspire the youth in India to pick up a basketball and give it to go. We are taking a patient view when it comes to India. We are trying balance immediate and long term possibilities,” Sheikh said.
The NBA is open to bringing star players to India to help build fan engagement. “Many of our players are open to travelling across the world. Players know that their fans are not located just in the USA. We are always looking to bring our players to India and other markets across Asia,” Sheikh said.
(The author is in Abu Dhabi on invitation from NBA India)
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