Several Bollywood stars, including Farhan Akhtar and Priyanka Chopra attended the National Basketball Association’s (NBA) first-ever match in India while Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed it as a historic moment for the India-US relations.
National Sports Club of India in Mumbai, where Sacramento Kings and Indiana Pacers met for the pre-season game, was packed with spectators on Saturday, according to Al-Jazeera, and Gateway of India was lit up in red, white and blue.
Union minister Kiren Rijiju called it a “beginning of a sports movement in India”.
Both Sacramento Kings and Indiana Pacers also tweeted about the teams’ time in India:
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, however, on Friday told The Times of India that he would have liked to host the NBA India games after the country had its infrastructure in place.
He admitted that he was persuaded by Vivek Ranadive (owner of Sacramento Kings). “I actually think it is a bit early and I credit Vivek Ranadive for this. Shortly after I became commissioner, Vivek made me commit that I will take a trip down to Mumbai. When I made the trip, he told me ‘commit to me that NBA will play games in India’ and he will bring one of the first NBA teams to play in India,” Silver told The Times of India.
The NBA Commissioner also told The Times of India that he told Ranadive at that time that he still felt “it was a little early in the development of the NBA, especially given there is not what I would call an NBA-style arena available to play in any major city.”
“But, I am glad he pushed me because I see it as an opportunity to jump-start the market. There is nothing like the real McCoy like having these NBA teams here,” he added.
Meanwhile, Silver has also expressed optimism of starting a league in India in five years, according to PTI, saying a serious discussion on it has been going on.
(With PTI inputs)