When former NBA champion player Joe Courtney of Chicago Bulls walked across to greet Vinay Kaushik of Delhi Capitals on being named ‘most valuable player’ of the UBA Pro Basketball League Season 2 on Friday, it was a moment to cherish for the Indian hoopster and his joy was understandable too.
For Kaushik, named most valuable player of the UBA Pro Basketball League Season 2 which reached the finals on Friday here, it was a meeting with Courtney, who played alongside the legendary Michael Jordan, he would not forget easily.
The Rohtak-born basketballer, (whose father was an ex-Serviceman and mother a housewife) who first wielded the willow before being persuaded by the seniors to a basketball court because of his better height among those playing cricket, is clearly on cloud nine and believes sharing of thoughts with such great players like Courtney would only make the Indians much better performers in the days to come.
“By virtue of representing India in the Junior and the Senior Asian championships I did have a chance to meet some of the NBA players earlier. But spending valuable time with such a quality player like Courtney is a different kind of experience. These players have so much of knowledge about the game. He did give me valuable tips which I would love to make optimum use of in the days to come,” says the 24-year-old Kaushik, the key player for Delhi Capitals against Chennai Slam in the best of three-finals starting tonight at Gachibowli Indoor Stadium.
Kaushik does believe that the UBA is one of the best things to have happened to Indian basketball. “We must tell you that this is badly needed for all of us as it not only features eight teams but some of the best players from across the country and also abroad. The competition is of high standard and it is a huge learning curve,” the soft-spoken hoopster pointed out.
“The UBA Pro League is definitely a huge platform which is giving not just the players the kind of exposure thanks to live television coverage on TEN Sports but also the game itself its due,” Kaushik said.
“Ironically, in almost every school you see a basketball court but many of those kids who play lack exposure at the right time. This is the major handicap for the sport in India,” the Delhi Capitals lead player commented.
“Honestly, I never expected to be the most valuable player of the Season 2 (he did not play in the first one). I must thank my amazing teammates, the coaches. They had great faith in my ability and I am glad that I Iived up to their expectations,” says Kaushik who works in the Income Tax Department (Gujarat).
What exactly is the goal for Kaushik now? “Not just for me but for every Indian basketballer playing in the UBA here, it is to see India on world map. We came very close to making it to the qualifiers for the 2016 Rio Olympics after finishing eighth in the Asian championship,” he remarked.
Interestingly, Kaushik is a huge fan of cricketing great Sachin Tendulkar not just for cricketing deeds but also for his generosity too. “I heard that he gives back a lot he earns for the deserving and needy in the society. That is so great of him. As they say this God of Cricket has a humane touch too off the field. I am a big fan, [but I'm] still waiting for the moment to meet him,” he signed off.
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