What You Can Expect When Kings & Pacers Make NBA History in India
Video Editor: Rahul Sanpui
The NBA is coming to India!
Almost 72 years after the National Basketball Association was founded, the league is set to make inroads into the country, with two pre-season games between Sacramento Kings and Indiana Pacers, in Mumbai on 4 and 5 October. This also marks the first time that a North American sports league will be hosting games in India.
And to understand what the fans can expect, I travelled to Indianapolis, the home of the Pacers – watched an NBA game live, spoke to the players, the Kings’ owners and fans.
India’s NBA Connect
In an interview to The Quint back in 2015, the NBA’s first Indian-born majority owner Vivek Ranadive had expressed his desire to bring his team Sacramento Kings and the league to the country of his birth.
Four years later, and he’s made sure that basketball fans back home have a chance to look forward to their maiden NBA experience.
NBA Game an Experience
Cricket, hockey, wrestling – I’ve seen several sports in several leagues live, but none have been like experiencing an NBA game. Television host and presenter Rannvijay Singha, who has long been a basketball player and fan, summed it up well.
“An NBA game is a full-on event. It is not just the game. It’s coming into the arena, getting your merchandise, wearing the jersey and sneakers of your favourite players, getting the hotdog, interacting with the mascots entertainment, people dancing, doing acrobatics the players interacting with the crowds and the game. It’s a culture, it’s the fashion, it’s the passion!”
And while the games won’t be part of the regular season, Indiana Pacers coach Nate McMillan says it will be an important time for the teams who will then be in training camp. “Usually during a pre-season game, we play our starters for the first half and then try bringing in all the other players,” he said.
Among the top players in the Sacramento Kings is the 2018 No. 2 overall draft pick Marvin Bagley III, 2017 No. 5 overall draft pick De’Aaron Fox and 2016 No. 6 overall draft pick Buddy Hield.
The Pacers’ roster currently features 2018 NBA All-Star Victor Oladipo, 2016 NBA All-Rookie second team member Myles Turner and 2016 No. 11 overall draft pick Domantas Sabonis (Lithuania).
Speaking to The Quint ahead of his game against the Milwaukee Bucks on 14 February, Turner said, “I'm really just excited for the fans. They're going to be able to see their first NBA game. It's quite ground-breaking”. Hield, who part of the three-point contest in this year’s All-Star Weekend, said “I'm excited to come there, I'm excited to see you guys. Make sure you guys come out to the game”.
So if you’re looking to attend the games this year, you can visit nbaevents.com/indiagames to register for information and tickets.