There are many who would like basketball to gain more popularity in India. For the first time in history, a basketball player of Indian descent has been signed to the NBA. Sim Bhullar, whose parents had immigrated from India to Canada some time ago, has inked a deal with the Sacramento Kings.
Vivek Ranadive, an Indian-born majority owner of the Kings, said of the 21-year-old Bhullar signing: “While Sim is the first player of Indian descent to sign with an NBA franchise, he represents one of many that will emerge from that region as the game continues to garner more attention and generate ever-increasing passion among a new generation of Indian fans.”
Ranadive also noted: “I’ve long believed that India is the next great frontier for the NBA, and adding a talented player like Sim only underscores the exponential growth basketball has experienced in that nation.”
There are a number of owners and other officials who are hoping that Bhullar’s signing with the Sacramento Kings will increase the popularity of the game in India. There have been some comparisons made to the boost of NBA in the People’s Republic of China in 2002. The 2002 boost in China took place when Yao Ming entered the NBA.
“What Yao Ming did for China, we hope players like Sim will do for India,” explained Ranadive in an interview. He further commented: “I have this vision – I call it NBA 3.0 – where I want to make basketball the premier sport of the 21st century.”
While many doubt that cricket will be dislodged as India’s most popular sport, with a country of 1.2 billion, there is nothing preventing another sport from rising in popularity. The Kings’s website states that Ranadive is planning on a trip to India with Adam Silver, the NBA commissioner.