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Interview with former NBA Champion Joe Courtney: "There's a lot of talent in India"

Former NBA champion Joe Courtney (left) and UBA VP of broadcasting Paul Crane
Ahmed Hashim
Modified 06 Apr 2016, 17:41 IST

For basketball fans in India, the United Basketball Alliance (UBA) has been a game changer with their Pro Basketball League giving a new lease of life to the game. The UBA has brought in professionals to manage the tournament and set new standards.

One of the most attractive features so far has been their exemplary TV production, which is being headed by vice president of broadcasting Paul Crane. Joining Crane for commentary duties in the final leg of Season 2 was former NBA champion Joe Courtney.

Courtney has had a long career in basketball, winning the 1993 NBA Championship with the Chicago Bulls. He also played for 6 other NBA clubs in addition to appearing for numerous other teams abroad in Spain, Venezuela, Slovenia, France and Japan. 

Currently providing color commentary for the UBA Pro Basketball League matches, Sportskeeda caught up with Courtney on the sidelines of the finals series between Chennai Slam and Delhi Capitals.

Sportskeeda: How would you describe your experience in India and the UBA in particular?

Joe Courtney: My experience has been excellent. The founders of the UBA have done an amazing job at bringing a professional, high level basketball venue to India. I've been exceptionally proud of the fact that the Indian basketball players have come out and given their all every single night.

These guys have a lot of talent and I hear there's even more talent that we haven't seen yet from other national players and everything else. So, I'm excited about it. I'm having a great experience so far; the hotel we're staying in has been awesome and I'm getting the chance to meet some really cool, nice people.

SK: Can you tell us a bit about you how got into basketball in the beginning?

JC: When I was in tenth grade in high school, I picked up a basketball for the first time in my life. The reason why I did was because of my mother. My father wanted me to play football and I really didn't want to play it. So, I was sitting on the couch once with my mother when she turned on the television and asked, why don't you try basketball?


And on the TV, the Chicago Bulls were playing and running down the court was Michael Jordan. I was very impressed by Michael Jordan's charisma and how hard he worked. It seemed like they had a family - it was a team and a family. It was cool but also it seemed like it opened a door to a great lifestyles and so I started pursuing basketball.

SK: You've played for a lot of teams in the NBA but obviously playing in the Chicago Bulls alongside your idol Michael Jordan and winning the championship in 1993 must have been one of the highlights. How did that feel?

JC: That was an amazing experience; obviously it was a dream come true. I had to pinch myself to wake up because seven years prior to that, I was sitting on a couch watching them on television. It just goes to show that anyone can do pretty much anything they want, within range obviously, if they dedicate themselves to it.

So I'm just blessed to be able to have that experience and to have the door open so I can do other things in life like this.

Joe Courtney giving tips to UBA players at a training camp

SK: You've had a long career, both in the States and abroad. So you have the experience to give advice to these youngsters playing here and also to the kids watching on TV. What advice would you give them?

JC: The first thing I'd tell them was that basketball can give them freedom - freedom from bad things on the street, freedom from depression, freedom from negativity. It gives them freedom in choosing a lifestyle if you dedicate yourselves enough to go there.

It transcends cultures, races; it's been an amazing thing. I would tell people here in India to embrace basketball because it is going to get better and better. 

SK: What kind of a future do you see for the UBA?

JC: Because I know the people who are behind the UBA, I see a great future. They are willing to do whatever it takes to make this the absolute best venue in India. They've got professional production and staff; they've been bringing in people and training the Indian community.

It's going to be excellent; it's the best thing that could happen for the Indian basketball players and the people here in the community.

SK: Will you be back here for next season?

JC: We're talking about possibly coming back. After the finals are over here, then we're going to sit down and discuss.

Published 03 Apr 2016, 23:39 IST
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