Basketball and India

A look back at former NBA Commissioner David Stern's visit to India in 2013

Early on Thursday, it was announced that former NBA Commissioner David Stern had passed away as a result of the brain hemorrhage he suffered three weeks earlier.

Stern's tenure of 30 years from 1984 to 2014 was the longest in league history.

A great ambassador for the game and the league, the NBA saw a lot of success under Stern's leadership. His progressive decisions were a huge reason for the sport and league being as popular as it is across the globe today.

MORE: NBA Players react to Stern's passing

For example, his visit to India in 2013 was a pivotal step in the league eventually conducting the first-ever NBA India Games in Mumbai in October 2019.

It was the first time an NBA Commissioner had visited the country.

He was even at an Indian Premier League game between the Mumbai Indians and the Delhi Daredevils at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai.

For a country the NBA hadn't yet reached, Stern had plenty of plans for the league in India - the adoption of the sport at the school level, successful TV coverage, increased presence on digital and social platforms, and run a collegiate league (as per a SLAM article).

Nearly seven years since Stern's visit, the league has successfully ticked off on all but one of his agendas.

Just six months after his visit, the Reliance Foundation Jr. NBA program was launched.

In the first year, the program aimed to grow the sport of basketball at the grassroots level in 150 schools across Mumbai and Kochi. Six years since launch, at the time of the NBA India Games, the program had reached over 10 million youth from 13,000 schools across 34 cities.

Under this program, the first of the two NBA India Games was played in front of 3,000 boys and girls from more than 70 schools.

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At the time of the historic preseason contests between the Indiana Pacers and Sacramento Kings in Mumbai, over 3.1 million Indians followed the NBA's official Facebook page in India.

Over the past four years, more than 300 NBA contests (regular season and playoffs) have been broadcasted in India each season on SONY TEN 1, SONY TEN 3 and SONY ESPN, including 85 with Hindi commentary.

An NBA Cares program tipped off Stern's trip in the country, but his visit as a whole helped bring the game closer to millions of basketball fans in India.

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