Basketball and India

Bollywood and the NBA: Notable Indian movie stars sharing space with NBA players

With just under a month to go before the opening night of the league's landmark 75th year, the NBA announced Bollywood superstar Ranveer Singh as the league's brand ambassador in India.

"I have loved basketball and the NBA since my childhood and have always been fascinated with its influence on popular culture, including music, fashion and entertainment," said Singh. "With the NBA tipping off its 75th season celebrations, there couldn't have been a better time to join forces with the league and support their efforts to grow basketball in the country."

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As part of the partnership, Singh will engage in multiple league initiatives to promote the sport in the country including featuring on "NBA Style" (@nbastyle_in)", a new lifestyle-focused Instagram account for fans in India that showcases the convergence of the NBA and popular culture.

There's also a plan in place for him to be attending the 2022 NBA All-Star Weekend in Cleveland and share behind-the-scenes content with NBA players and legends on social media.

While he'll serve as the bridge between new fans and movies goers, Singh is one of those rare personalities, let alone Indian, to have had the good fortune of sharing the same camera frame with 'His Airness' - Michael Jordan.

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That said, here's a look at a number of other Bollywood superstars who have interacted with the world of the NBA in recent years.

Ranbir Kapoor

One of the finest actors among the current crop in Bollywood, Ranbir Kapoor got the opportunity to meet the late Kobe Bryant back in 2010 at the Madison Square Garden.

After the Lakers defeated the Knicks 115-105 where Bryant finished with 27 points and six assists, Kapoor - who was in the United States while filming the movie 'Anjaana Anjani' - not only got to meet the Black Mamba but also received his game-worn sneakers with his autograph.

Dino Morea and Lara Dutta

A couple of years earlier, Dino Morea and Lara Dutta - winner of the Miss Universe 2000 pageant - met with Kobe Bryant in Los Angeles for a shoot.

After the shoot, the duo not only posed for clicks with the NBA legend but also received customized autographed Lakers jerseys.

Abhishek Bachchan

In 2014, second-generation Bollywood superstar Abhishek Bachchan was part of the launch of the NBA's online merchandise in India, in partnership with Jabong.

The following year, Bachchan, a long-time Los Angeles Lakers fan, participated in the 2015 All-Star Celebrity Game at the Madison Square Garden as a goodwill ambassador to the league. He was part of the Team East, which also included celebrities like Kevin Hart and Michael Rapport.

For more on his participation at the epic event, part of the 2015 All-Star Weekend in New York City, click here.

Bachchan remained an avid member of the NBA fanbase in India.

In 2017, when India welcomed Kevin Durant, then the reigning Finals MVP and arguably the greatest NBA player to visit the country, Jr. Bachchan was part of the celebrities - which also included India's first and only NBA Draft pick, Satnam Singh - in attendance at the reception to welcome KD.

To re-live Kevin Durant's epic trip to India in 2017, click here.

Neha Dhupia

In 2015, courtesy of the league office in India, Neha Dhupia - Bollywood actress and winner of the Femina Miss India 2002 pageant - was able to attend a couple of games live around New Year's 2016.

During the trip, she met up with a host of notable personalities including Jimmy Butler, Kristaps Porzingis and Walt Frazier. First, she was at the United Center in Chicago on Dec. 30 to watch Jimmy Butler make a last-second tip-in game-winner in overtime against the Indiana Pacers.

A couple of days later, she was at the Madison Square Garden, as the Knicks hosted the Atlanta Hawks on Jan. 3.

After taking in all of the NBA action, back home six months later, Dhupia was at the launch of the NBA.com's regional website for India in April of 2016.

Disha Patani

Actress Disha Patani visited Los Angeles to watch the Los Angeles derby in Jan. 2019, a game that saw the return of LeBron James from his injury on Christmas Day 2018.

Her visit was one of a storyline-filled week for basketball fans in India. More on that, here.

Reggie Miller

This wasn't technically 'Bollywood meeting NBA' but given how the world has operated since the COVID-19 pandemic, virtual counts. So here's the context.

'Dil Bechara', an adaptation of John Green's popular novel -The Fault In Our Stars, was the last movie Sushant Singh Rajput worked on before his tragic death on June 14th, 2020.

In the movie's title track, the lead Rajput is seen performing in Reggie Miller's #31 Indiana Pacers jersey. Ekalavyas, among the most popular basketball media houses in India, posted a short clip of the track on their Instagram account and put out a rallying cry to tag the Hall of Famer in the comments section in an attempt to catch his attention.

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The plan worked and the Hall of Famer responded.

Simran Kaur Mundi

Simran Kaur Mundi, an actress who was crowned Miss India Universe 2008, was part of the rolling cast that hosted 'Saturday Morning Live', the NBA's wraparound show on Saturdays during the 2018-19 season.

Through the season, the show hosted numerous NBA stars like Tim Hardaway Jr. and Rashard Lewis, who visited India to promote the show.

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Rannvijay Singha

Originally of MTV fame, Rannvijay Singh went on to act in multiple Bollywood movies. Having played basketball in his younger days, he is quite an NBA fan and has one of the most unique sneaker collections.

From meeting Devin Booker back in 2016 to shooting show segments with NBA players like Seth Curry and Robin Lopez for 'NBA Slam', an Indian television show about NBA basketball on the Sony SIX channel, Singha has shared the screen space with NBA players multiple times.

He was part of the rolling cast of 'Saturday Morning Live', adding to his list of multiple appearances alongside NBA players.

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