NBA star Lopez believes India now has a system in place to nurture talent

Los Angeles Lakers’ centre, Brook Lopez, in India to identify talent for the NBA Academy’s second batch, felt that things were falling into place for youngsters here dreaming of a professional career in basketball.

Brook Lopez interacts with young basketball aspirants in Delhi .   -  Special Arrangement

Los Angeles Lakers’ centre, Brook Lopez, in India to identify talent for the NBA Academy’s second batch, felt that things were falling into place for youngsters here dreaming of a professional career in basketball. Eight players, ranging between 13-17 years, were shortlisted from the ACG-NBA Jump National finals.

The Lakers player is of the view that, with a system in place at the Noida-based academy, kids have a better chance of making dreams come true. “It is exciting to see first-hand what the NBA has been doing here, the Academy, Junior NBA programme and ACG. They are setting up a system to give them an opportunity. It is important for kids to have resources and instructors.”

Lopez, who has a decade of top-flight experience, observed: “For a long time, there was not a system in place like the U.S. where a kid dreaming of getting into pro basketball knows the path to the NBA. Many of the kids here have raw skills, just from playing the sport. They need a way to grow from here, take care of their bodies and get the tools to make the change by training at the (NBA) academy.”

The Lakers’ player felt that competing with twin brother Robin growing up helped. “We grew up in basketball. Me and twin brother were gym rats when young, lived and trained in the gym.  Whether playing in our driveway or at school, we competed against each other and made each other better. That is the kind of competition academies like this can foster.” The Lopez twins have played together for Chicago Bulls in NBA.

Describing his NBA career, Brook said: “It is difficult to believe that my career has travelled 10 years. I still feel like a rookie. To be able to play with Kevin Garnett and Vince Carter, it has been an amazing experience. I was with the New Jersey Nets for nine years, the transition to the Lakers was made as easy as possible. We could have made the NBA playoffs this time, but for a rash of injuries. The Lakers have a young team and learning."