Philadelphia, 8 June 2018: The Basketball Federation of India, by way of letter dated 4th June 2018, has imposed a ban on professional basketball player Amjyot Singh Gill for alleged ‘continuous indiscipline’. In this regard, the following is the statement from Amjyot on the matter:
I am in receipt of the letter dated 4th June 2018 from the Basketball Federation of India regarding the imposition of a one-year ban on me from participating ‘in any of the basketball tournaments/matches/ championships falling under the purview/affiliated/permitted by the Basketball Federation of India in India as well as abroad’.
I am disappointed with this action from the BFI. I have been representing my country for close to 8 years now and I have always given my all when I have the Indian jersey on, whether in practice or in the game. I have worked hard on my craft in the conditions given to me and continuously try to improve my game. I have been privileged to be a part of a number of memorable victories as part of the Indian team and I take immense pride in being able to contribute to our wins.
I am thankful to the BFI for the opportunities bestowed on me in the past. Therefore, I am greatly disappointed and I feel this is a disservice done to me. In the recently concluded Commonwealth Games 2018 in Australia, I ensured that I was present to be a part of the team despite the ongoing NBA G-League season. In fact, in order to participate in the Commonwealth Games, I missed the opportunity to play for Oklahoma City Blue in the G-League playoffs, which could have been a great opportunity for me to improve my game further and spread my name among the NBA fraternity. I had started 4 games for OKC Blue and was steadily becoming a regular part of the rotation.
But as always, country comes first for me and I was keen on participating in the Commonwealth Games. During a practice session, there was an altercation between Arshpreet Bhullar and me during the normal course of practice. There was a disagreement between a foul call called by the coach during practice. I am the last person to indulge in any alleged violence and my reaction was only in self-defence. There is no point of me going into the details of who started what, because these arguments and differences are normal during the course of any practice session with any sports team. We are all competitive and we want to do the best for our team and country.
I feel that my actions do not even remotely warrant a one-year ban as imposed by the BFI. In February 2018, I was told clearly by the BFI that I was on the list of probables for the FIBA World Cup Qualifiers by way of a letter addressed to the NBA G-League office asking for my release from OKC Blue. However, it turned out this fact was not true and there was a clerical error on the part of the BFI. They missed out on including my name and Amritpal’s name in the list of probables and this was only informed to us after we arrived in India, only two days before the first game. Furthermore, when they were unable to rectify their error with FIBA, BFI representatives instructed us not to speak to the media about the same and also requested us to fake injury to the media. When we strictly refused to lie to the media, they asked us to leave Bangalore immediately and they booked our flights to our respective homes on the night of 23rd February 2018 – the day of the first FIBA World Cup Qualifier in February 2018.
In addition, I had travelled from Oklahoma City to India at my own expense, on the assurance from the BFI that I would be reimbursed for my travel, as is standard policy for all national team players selected by the BFI to represent the country. However, it has been several months since, but I am yet to receive the reimbursement of the high costs incurred by me to travel from the US to India and back to the US.
I do not understand the statements made to the Times of India by the Hon’ble Secretary General of the BFI, Mr. Chander Mukhi Sharma relating to me trying to break up the team into factions. I strive to be selfless and a complete team player both on and off the court and I am confident that majority of the players who have interacted or played with me will tell you the same. For me, personal egos and relationships do not come before the Indian national team. Also, the statement that I did not report for camp for three days does not make sense to me as I arrived straight from the US for both the FIBA World Cup Qualifiers and the Commonwealth Games 2018 and joined the team a few days before the first matches.
I was not even provided with a chance to be heard despite repeated attempts to clarify my stand and my actions. I had contacted the Secretary General of the BFI and requested for a meeting to express my version of the events. My calls were not answered and there was no attempt by any BFI members to hear my version of the events, neither was there any show cause notice issued to me before imposition of the ban.
This one-year ban has taken away the opportunity to represent my country at the international level. I hope the BFI can reconsider their stand. I will continue to develop my game and focus on my professional career. I am always ready to play for my country and will be privileged to do so if called upon by the BFI in the future.