Baron’s canons

Baron Davis..."I see a lot of hunger for the game here (in India) and if the game is taken in the right direction, you are going to make it big.”-V. SREENIVASA MURTHY Baron Davis..."I see a lot of hunger for the game here (in India) and if the game is taken in the right direction, you are going to make it big.”

The towering point guard, who was in Bangalore as part of the Hoop School WNBA programme, was a true ambassador for the game. He played, bantered and mixed freely with the trainees.

For the past couple of years, the NBA, as part of its Hoop School WNBA programme, has been bringing its former stars such as A. C. Greene as ambassador to promote junior basketball in the country. But this time, for a change, it flew down a current NBA star, Baron Davis, to conduct its clinics in India.

The towering point guard from the LA Clippers lived his role as an ambassador for the game, playing, bantering and mixing freely with his trainees.

“You got to be passionate about the game. I find plenty of kids here passionate about basketball,” said Davis as he went through his systematic routine with the junior State players in Bangalore. “But what they need is not passion alone, they should have the right fundamentals and keep working on improving their skills. I see a lot of hunger for the game here and if the game is taken in the right direction in India, you are going to make it big,” added the NBA All-Star player.

Davis also stressed the need for better infrastructure, preferably a lot of public courts to get the youngsters hooked to the game. “My early days in the game in the impoverished Los Angels suburb were on such courts,” he said.

China could be a right example for India to spur its basketball ambitions. “A decade ago the Chinese were nowhere in the game, but now China is among the top basketball nations in the world. It has players (like Yao Ming) in the NBA. If that kind of change can be brought about here, India can well aspire to be a basketball power,” said Davis.

Recalling his own humble beginning, Davis said, “I began playing as a kid when my grand dad gave me a basketball on my birthday, but things were hard growing up. But my inspiring moment came when Magic Johnson asked me to play with him when I was watching him practise in LA. I was thrilled.”

Johnson still remains Davis’s idol though he rates Michael Jordan as a bigger star.

His biggest break came in 1999, when he was drafted into the NBA by Charlotte Hornets. From then on there was no looking back.

Davis had stints in movies and was an NBA movie critic too. He also produced the film, ‘American Dream’ to inspire kids. “But films can wait, right now I am living my own dream,” signed off the champion player.

Kalyan Ashok