Third time is the charm. After the third edition of the Mahindra NBA Challenge being launched in India last year, this time around the NBA has introduced for the first time a 3 on 3 event to add to its growing presence in India. This packages half court basketball around shopping malls and is peppered with performances from India’s top DJs and performers. Today saw a performance from Hard Kaur, the Golden State Warriors Dance team and a 7 time NBA Champion Robert Horry.
Here are a few details about this 3x tournament:
- over 400 teams expected all over India
- two age divisions, 16-18 and 18-23
This will be done in 4 cities. Noida, Hyderabad, Chennai and Mumbai. Noida is already underway. Winners from Noida, Hyderabad and Chennai will be flown into Mumbai. The national finals will be in Mumbai right after the Mumbai leg of competition is over. The National Champions in each division will qualify to participate in a 2013 FIBA/NBA Asia 3-on-3 basketball tournament.
There is something for everyone here, from the competitive hoops for the hardcore fan to the fun contests held on the fan court for the casual fan. Hard Kaur was here for all the fans in person to rock the crowd. Rap and hip hop are staples with basketball and she brought in that energy at the action today.
“We are excited to tip off NBA 3X presented by Sprite in Delhi with the help of seven-time NBA Champion Robert Horry. The event combines NBA-style entertainment, 3-on-3 basketball, and music to engage youth and build our fan base in India,” said NBA India Senior Director of Development Akash Jain. “This is the largest fan program we have ever hosted in India and the wide range of basketball and lifestyle elements will provide memorable experiences for our fans.”
Here’s today’s question and answer session with Robert Horry:
Me: Hard Kaur just performed. How do you think the rap scene in India compares to what it is in the states?
Robert Horry: Its pretty much the same here and in the states. The same energy and the crowd gets into it really well and both the performance and crowd feed off of each other.
Me: The NBA 3X tipped off today. Lot of fun activities along with the main offering. India has had a lot of success in 3×3. What do you think of the 3 on 3 style compared to the five on five.
Robert Horry: There was a lot of on and off court action here today. This event was a complete entertainment package. Three on three is so much more faster paced and energetic. You can come across people playing one on one in a park, then a couple more show up and it becomes three on three, then five on five. Half court basketball, 3 on 3 gives you time to learn the basics and work on the foundation of the game. Its a high energy form of the game and a cool way to jump start basketball around here. There are no fast breaks and its just non stop action on one end of the court.
Me: What do you think India has going for it which makes it conducive for a sport like basketball to take hold?
Robert Horry: I’ve seen the passion. People are open to new things and want to learn. You need to keep an open mind and put yourself out there and that is the scene here. I think basketball can really become very popular here.
Me: In India, there’s a scouting policy where tall players are given preference in many training academies. The Indian team is also a little thin at the point guard spot. With Yao Ming’s explosion what do you think of the importance attached to height and how far is it justified to overlook players literally and figuratively when it comes to scouting?
Robert Horry: Well you know height is important but its definitely not enough. Its a lot more important to be able to play the game. You need to apply yourself with dedication to make it. Height will only get you so far. You need to be able to play. You look at Kareem, he was big and look at his skillset. He was incredibly skilled along with being a big man. Also some of the best basketball players in the world are under 6 feet tall. Sure its good to be tall but short players should be given just as much of a chance.
Me: You’re 6″10. I read that you looked up to Magic Johnson for inspiration. What was the transition like for you wanting to play like a PG then growing into your role as a big man.
Robert Horry: I looked up to Magic a lot. I really enjoyed watching his game and the way he made players around him better. That’s the key as a basketball player to make players around you better. I just admired his game. I never patterned my game after him. I always set out to be my own player.
Me: As that player, do you worry when starting off cold from the field? Does it bother you later in the game that you may be cold?
Robert Horry: No I always maintain my confidence. Always feel like I’m gonna make the next shot that I take. That’s how you have to think if you want to make it big. Unless you believe in yourself your teammates won’t believe in you and if you are not confident you have no business being on the court. I credit my high school coach a lot he really steered me the right way.
Me: You established a reputation for being a big time clutch player early in your career. Did it bother you that even though you make big shots you still come off the bench?
Robert Horry: Coming off the bench you have to make an adjustment you gotta keep your body warm. Sitting cools you down and you need to be able to jump into the action at a moment’s notice. It didn’t bother me that I didn’t start when we had a strong team. I’d play at the end of quarters and when it mattered I’d be there finishing things off so it worked out pretty well for me.
Me: Coach Popovic, some say he would just start Manu Ginobili off the bench so he could win the Sixth Man of the Year award.
Robert Horry: No it was good to have that firepower off the bench. We had Tim Duncan and Tony Parker in the starting lineup, both could light it up offensively. A coach has to manage minutes, a 82 game NBA season takes its toll. Coach Greg was great, he knew what he was doing.
Me: What do you expect to see tomorrow?
Robert Horry: Today the players were fresh all came into this playing off of emotion. It’ll be interesting to see how things play out tomorrow.
Me: Playing off emotion, did anyone there challenge you today?
Robert Horry: Well yeah. But I wasn’t going to go hard and play to win.
Me: Yeah you have won it all. You don’t have anything left to prove. Thanks for your time.
Robert Horry: Sure, thanks.
Here is the schedule for NBA 3X presented by Sprite:
The Great India Place Mall
Sept. 15: Hard Kaur
Sept. 16: Nikhil Chinapa and DJ Pearl
Sept. 22: Anushka Manchanda
Sept. 23: Nikhil Chinapa and DJ Pearl
Besant Nagar Beach
Oct. 13: Anushka Manchanda
Oct. 14: Nikhil Chinapa and DJ Pearl
Oct. 20: DJ Clement and DJ Ajit
Oct. 21: Anushka Manchanda