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NBA India Games 2019

NBA India Games 2019: NBA milestones in India that led up to the historic preseason games in Mumbai

NBA Milestones in India
(Illustration)

"So I think our two most immediate goals are, one, to see the development of some top-tier talent coming out of India and where we would again see players coming into the NBA and WNBA. There's also an enormous pool of young women playing the game as well. And, two, serious consideration of the launch of a league." - Adam Silver.

In the backdrop of the two historic contests between the Sacramento Kings and the Indiana Pacers, at the NSCI Dome, on Oct. 4 and 5, Commissioner Silver announced to the world the league's plan for the future in India.

Silver further mentioned that during his time in India for the Games, he had taken meetings with arena developers and the league's business partners to further grow, promote and build the sport in the country.

MORE: Talking points from Adam Silver's press conference in India

So, the games are not only a culmination of a nearly decade-long journey, but it's also the beginning of another one.

Here's a look at the biggest landmark moments over the past 9-10 years that were key building blocks to the league eventually coming to India:

2010 - NBA's broadcasting deal with SPN (formerly MSM)

The two NBA India Games were broadcasted live on Sony Ten 1 and Sony Ten 3 (in Hindi), two sports channels that are part of Sony Pictures Network (SPN). Over the past couple of seasons, SPN has been broadcasting nearly 350 regular-season games including 80 in Hindi.

The league first agreed to a deal with Multi Screen Media (now SPN) in 2010, even before they first set up an office in India.

Their partnership has brought the sport and the league a long way forward over these nine years.

In recent years, their partnerships has brought primetime games on Sunday, a pregame and postgame show on the weekends like Saturday Morning Live and Around the Hoop during which the moderators and experts engage with fans.

2011 - NBA sets up office in Mumbai

2013 - David Stern visits

This visit, in April of 2013, marked the first time an NBA Commissioner had visited India.

Here for the launch of an NBA Cares program, Stern came halfway across the world with many agendas on his mind - the right scale of 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).

During the visit, he posed in front of the Gateway of India monument and was even present at an Indian Premier League game, India's very popular professional T20 cricket league.

2013 - Reliance Foundation Jr. NBA program begins in India

The same year Stern visited India, the Reliance Foundation Jr. NBA program launched in India. As per an official release, the program promotes health, fitness and an active lifestyle through basketball, and teaches the values of the game such as teamwork, sacrifice, discipline, dedication and sportsmanship.

Over the past six years, the program has reached more than 10 million youth from 10,000 schools across 34 cities and has trained more than 10,000 physical education instructors nationwide.

"When we began our relationship with the Reliance Foundation, for example, shortly before I became commissioner, the target was to reach 3 million young people. As I said earlier, that number has now already exceeded 10 million." - Silver said in his press conference on Oct. 4 before the NBA India Games.

In fact, the first of the two Pacers-Kings contests in India, on Oct. 4, was played in front of an arena filled with 3,000 boys and girls from more than 70 schools under the Reliance Foundation Jr. NBA program.

2014 - Adam Silver visits India with Vivek Ranadivé

Less than a year after taking over as NBA Commissioner, Adam Silver visited India along with Vivek Ranadivé, few Sacramento Kings' officials that included Vlade Divac and a group from the NBA that included Mark Tatum.

MORE: Looking back at Adam Silver's visit to India in 2014

"Shortly after I became commissioner, or actually I had been named commissioner but I wasn't commissioner yet, Vivek Ranadivé had asked me if I would take a trip to Mumbai with him. Of course, as all new commissioners do, you say yes to anything that an NBA owner asks of you." - Silver said in his press conference in Mumbai.

The visit was also used to celebrate a special milestone for the Reliance Foundation Jr. NBA program - the milestone of reaching 750,000 youth in 1,000 schools in eight cities.

2015 - Satnam Singh gets selected in the NBA Draft

Satnam Singh Bhamara made history on June 25th, 2015 when he became the first Indian-born player to be picked in the NBA Draft. He was selected 52nd overall by the Dallas Mavericks.

Although no Indian had made it to the NBA yet, the 7-2 center certainly paved the path for plenty in India to dream. Since that June, he would go on to be associated with plenty of 'firsts' in Indian basketball history.

A couple of weeks after his draft selection, he became the first Indian-born player to participate in an NBA G-League game. In 2018, he became the first Indian-born player to participate in the NBL Canada league.

Feb. 2016 - Palpreet Singh Brar wins first-ever ACG-NBA Jump program

After Satnam, the league was keen on bridging the gap to its prospects in India. So, within a year after Satnam's draft selection, they partnered with ACG Worldwide to launch the ACG-NBA Jump, a first-of-its-kind talent search programme to find the best young basketball player in India.

The talent search that was open to players between the ages of 18-22, held its national finals from February 22-25, 2016 at Jaypee Greens at Greater Noida.

The winner of the search - Palpreet Singh Brar, a 6-8 forward was awarded the opportunity to receive coaching from NBA level scouts and participate in the NBA D-League later that year.

Following the tryouts, he made history when he was picked directly in the D-League draft by the Long Island Nets with the 11th pick in the fourth round (77th overall), however, he was waived before the team played its first game that season.

The second season onwards, the winners of the ACG-NBA Jump program received a scholarship and training at the NBA Academy India.

Apr. 2017 - NBA Basketball Schools launched in India

As per its official page, the "NBA Basketball School is a network of tuition-based basketball development programs around the world open to international male and female players ages 6-18."

The first-ever Basketball school opened on April 7, 2017 in Mumbai, India as part of a multiyear agreement announced with India On Track (IOT), one of India's leading sports management, marketing and development companies.

It takes time to show results for programs run at the grassroot levels but there are few positive signs already in India. A few girls from the Basketball school program were a part of the roster at the third NBA Academy India Women's Camp in Mumbai during the NBA India Games.

View this post on Instagram

➡️ from #NBABasketballSchool India (@indiaontrack_iot) to #NBAAcademy India Women's camp! Technical Director and guest coach Leo Bruno tells us about their program and its role in identifying and developing talent in India!

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For more on the NBA Basketball Schools program in India, click here.

May, 2017 - The NBA Academy India opens (May)

The NBA launched the NBA Academy India in May of 2017 at Jaypee Greens Integrated Sports Complex in Delhi National Capital Region (NCR).

The Academy serves as a center, with state-of-the-art facilities and elite coaching for young boys and girls who graduate from the league's existing basketball and youth development initiatives in India - Reliance Foundation Jr. NBA and NBA Basketball Schools with India on Track.

Here are the names of the 21 boys that were part of the roster when the Academy opened two years ago: Manoj Sisodiya, Md. Ali, Riyanshu Negi, Amaan Sandhu, Sejin Mathew, Virat Dhakad, Achintya Krishna, Rajveer Bhati, M. Shanmugam, Shaurya Kohli, Prashant Rawat, Vivek Chauhan, Jagshanbir Singh, Brijesh Tiwari, Arvind Kumar, Robin Banerjee,Digvijay Shekhawat, Preshit Pawar, Suraj Phathak, Parth Sharma and Rishabh Jaiswal.

The coaching staff when the Academy opened included - Ray Farrell as Technical Director, Jacques Vandescure as the Player Development Coach, and Todd Gates as the Strength and Conditioning Coach.

For the current roster and coaching staff at the NBA Academy India, click here.

2017 offseason - KD visits

India has had many NBA stars visit in the offseason, especially over the last decade.

However, arguably none of them were as great as Kevin Durant. India had played host to a reigning NBA Champion before - Chris Bosh in 2013 - but when KD arrived in July of 2017, the country hosted a reigning Finals MVP for the first time ever.

It was an incredible moment in the basketball history of the country. Durant visited the Taj Mahal, coached the student-athletes at the recently opened NBA Academy India, set a Guiness World Record, and donated two basketball courts to a school in New Delhi through his charity foundation.

A player of his talent, stature and caliber visiting the country, brought a lot of attention and eyeballs with it.

For more on Kevin Durant's top to India click here.

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