At a time when the country is being painted in the IPL colours, I wear purple-gold and cheer for the Bryant-studded Lakers. And I am not alone, there would me many others who, instead of star-worshipping the so-called ‘God’ of cricket Sachin Tendulkar, would rather be cheering for their NBA favourites LeBron, Bryant or Durant. And the number of these ‘many others’ go upto half-a-million!
In a country where cricket is like a religion and Sachin its god, it’s hard to believe that any other game would reach up to that level or even come close to it. After all, the game has become an integral part of the nation. Yet, Basketball along with a few other sports, is striving amid this competition.
In the yesteryear’s, it was only cricket, cricket, and cricket. But as the years passed, although the fever of cricket remained more or less the same, few other sports made their way.
Who hasn’t heard of Baichung Bhutia? He isn’t a Cricket star. He’s a footballer! And I see a time when Indian basketball players will stand amidst those famed ones. And that time is not faraway.
And all this is not going to happen with just a snap of the fingers. Many things are helping this ambition to take shape. First of all, it is always the players. The increasing popularity of NBA has drawn new interests. Moreover, most of the schools nowadays have basketball courts. And who wouldn’t want to shoot a hoop or two. And more probably, he or she would want to take up the game professionally. Then comes the authorities. Many blame them for not doing anything, isn’t it? (Ha! Even I put the blame on them in one of my previous posts). But we don’t see what they do. Also, NBA is doing its best to promote basketball in India. In collaboration with Mahindra, NBA is organising the NBA Mahindra challenge is organised every year in different cities. The NBA team, Golden State Warriors organise a ‘Bollywood night’ every season. Coaches from NBA have also been assigned to coach the Indian team.
But alas, there are a few evils holding back the game in our country. For every good, there is a bad; for every yin, there is a yang; and our basketball is no exception. But these problems don’t matter a lot when there is so much interest in the game. After all, basketball is the second fastest popular growing sport in the country. Doesn’t that makes you feel proud?
It’s only the beginning, there is much more to come. So, sit back and enjoy the journey of Indian basketball. But wait, don’t forget to give your bit. Every bit helps.
Sorry cricket, but more big things are coming!