The game happens here: What it means to play basketball in India

The Supreme Court…. No it’s not in Delhi. It’s in every courtyard of every school of the country. Or at least that is what hoopsters in India would like you to believe. For many of them, playing basketball is like being cast under a hypnotic spell from which there’s no escape. It’s wei wu wei of the highest order- there is no fear or anxiety: just peace, love and happiness. There are people here for whom every dribble makes them come alive, where they feel a tingle down their spine, every time they step out on the basketball court. What is it about two hoops and a 28m by 15m rectangle that engages and occupies ballers for their entire lives? This infatuation is all the more extraordinary if you consider the circumstances in which a desi plays basketball.

Playing basketball in India is actually tougher than playing in the NBA. Every court is different: cement, tar or clay. Every ball is different: COSCO, NIVEA, SPARTAN, NIKE or SPALDING. Every ring is different: some are double rim, some are single rim. Every ring is at slightly different heights and some rings are more loose than the other (meaning there is no consistency in where the rebounds may fall).

In fact, where you are playing basketball in India also matters. The courts in Rajasthan are constantly dusty, with sands blowing across the surface of the court making it extremely difficult to grip the ball. The courts in the south are always wet, with puddles of water during most part of the year (weirdly enough always near the freethrow line or under the basket, making it practically impossible to play; you need to have gunny bags or mops to drain the court). I dunno about the courts in the east, because I haven’t played there yet, but I can pretty much imagine them to be of some peculiarity.

No Indian has made it to the NBA yet (although there are some contenders- see I and II), but folks here are still passionate about playing, and overcome a remarkable number of hurdles to do so. Women ballers fight their traditions and parents, guy ballers fight the impulse to get settled and find a stable job and kids fight persistent pleas from their friends wanting them to play cricket instead.

I salute all these people. These unknown heroes who are now not so unknown anymore, thanks to the pioneering work being done by sportskeeda and select others in popularizing the sport of basketball (among other sports) in our country.

The game truly happens here- right here in India, just as much as in the US, where the NBA playoffs are happening in controlled air conditioned arenas, where they can practice their shots in the comfort of not having to take their own rebounds, where they have stacks of basketballs lined up by their side and money is not a problem.

Playing basketball in India is no joke, mind you. Especially when you are concerned with winning: when you genuinely want to improve and not merely play as an evening past time. Indeed a person playing basketball in India has to face so many problems each day, that he is forced to scratch his head and wonder whether it is worth all the effort. So much so, it is said that a person becomes a philosopher or a thinker in one of two situations: either when he comes out of a bad relationship or when he is an Indian who is basketball obsessed.

Edited by Staff Editor
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