Toronto Raptors Superfan Nav Bhatia is excited about the future of basketball in India (Exclusive)
It's a great time to be a fan of basketball in India. The sport continues to take massive strides forward with several stars from the NBA, both past and present, flying down to the subcontinent to spread awareness about the game. But nothing comes close to what we're going to witness in a month and a half.
On October 4th and 5th, India will get a taste of live NBA action as the Indiana Pacers and the Sacramento Kings will faceoff in two pre-season games at Dome @ NSCI in Mumbai. NBA India Games 2019 is surely going to set the basketball hype train in motion in the country.
Toronto Raptors Superfan Nav Bhatia was in India recently to promote the games and he concurred with the above notion. He took the time to speak to us at Sportskeeda about the stature of basketball in India and how the sport is all set to grow here in the near future. Here are some excerpts from that conversation:
An event like this has never taken place in India. When the games do take place in India, how do you think it will change the landscape and the development of the sport of basketball as a whole in the country?
It will be exactly like in Canada. The game came there in '95. In the early 90s, you could hardly find any basketball gear in Toronto and now you go, you have everything available everywhere.
So I think it's going to change the culture and it is going to be good. With these NBA games in Mumbai, I think the people are going to get more exposure.
I think this sport is going to grow like crazy in the times to come and very shortly, maybe god willingly, there will be a league which will be set up in India.
What do you think is the potential that India presents on a world stage? It is unfortunate that we are not participating in the FIBA Basketball World Cup taking place later this year. But do you envision us qualifying for the same when it happens the next time around?
Ya, ya. See, these are the baby steps. In Canada, ice hockey is the national sport but in the last couple of years, we have come really close to that. We had the biggest basketball championship parade in Toronto. Two and a half million people lined up for 7-8 hours on an 8-kilometer route to enjoy the championship win.
What are your opinions on the current infrastructure of basketball in India?
I think they are taking the right steps. They were also in Orlando at the World Junior Championships, they sent a team there which is a good thing. Also, they have an academy in Noida.
In the time to come, you will see the culture of basketball grow more and more. People will be falling in love with playing this sport and watching this sport.
NBA has several global games taking place round the year. These are not just the pre-season games, but regular season games as well, just like the ones that took place in Mexico City and London last season. Pre-season games are taking place in India now, do you envision a regular season game taking place in the country in the future?
I don't know, that's a decision the NBA makes.
I just think they [NBA] are going to do more and more with basketball in India because there are a billion reasons for them to do it.
We thank Nav Bhatia for his time. He also talked about the Toronto Raptors and you can check out that conversation here. If you are a fan of basketball in India, do tune into the NBA India Games 2019 on October 4th and 5th!