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NBA India Games 2019

NBA India Games 2019: Plans to establish a league in India headline the biggest takeaways from Adam Silver's pre-game press conference in Mumbai

Adam Silver
(NBA Getty Images)

Since becoming the NBA Commissioner in 2014, Adam Silver has delivered on several huge promises made to Sacramento Kings' co-owner and chairman Vivek Ranadivé.

One was his trip to India in December of 2014 while the other was the NBA India Games. The vision for the games began back then, just a year after Ranadivé's group became the majority owners of the California franchise.

"Once we were on the ground here in Mumbai, Vivek said, Now I need you to promise me one more thing, and I said, sure, again, still a new commissioner, yes to anything that I'm asked," Adam Silver said. "I asked, What's that, and he said, That we will now play games in Mumbai, and of course the first game must include the Sacramento Kings. New on the job, I said, Absolutely."

Silver, Ranadivé, and Herbert Simon (the Pacers' governer), all expressed the common feeling of excitement for being in Mumbai and gratitude to the city of Mumbai for its hospitality in their opening address.

MORE: NBA India Games - By the Numbers

So what's next for the NBA's efforts in India? That announcement from Silver came once the press conference opened up to questions from the media.

Desire to launch a league

"One of the things we've been discussing recently -- and I know this is something else my friend Vivek is pushing me on -- is the ability to launch a league here in India," Silver said when asked about the league's plans in India. "As I've said, we have wonderful partners in the Reliance Foundation, with SONY TEN, our broadcaster, and some of our other top-notch corporate relationships here. That is something in these days while we're here that we're taking meetings on and openly having discussions."

The goal of launching a league in India could follow the same path established earlier this year when the NBA launched the Basketball Africa League (BAL). Beginning play in the spring of 2020, the BAL will feature 12 club teams in seven host cities across Africa and features both Nike and Jordan Brand as exclusive outfitters.

Neither Silver nor Ranadivé gave any details on whether the Indian league would be similar to the BAL, what this Indian league would look like, how it would run and other fundamental aspects related to it.

Having made the announcement, Silver was asked for more details on the league. The Commissioner, however, did not mention any specifics.

Though it's still too soon for specifics, Silver shared his hope to have the league running in the next five years, just as much as time, as he believes, it would take an Indian to get into the NBA.

"I mean, I actually -- Vivek, one place where at least I said publicly where I'm ahead of you, that I announced earlier today, it's my hope that within five years we have an Indian player in the NBA," Silver said. "And I think for serious consideration of a league, I'd use that same timing. It's something we would hope to do within the next five years."

According to the Commissioner, establishing the league is one of the NBA's two immediate goals.

More NBA India Games!

"Absolutely yes"

That's what Commissioner Silver said when asked if more teams would visit India.

When? Who? - No details were shared but that's probably because of the challenges the NBA needs to overcome if this were to an annual event.

One of the things we need, though, is more of an arena infrastructure. I think this is where Vivek was a little ahead of the schedule that we might otherwise have been on. This is a fantastic facility we're in today, but it required us bringing in a court, a scoreboard, seats, locker rooms. And it's relatively small certainly by NBA standards.

NBA intends to open more Academies

The NBA India Games could be viewed as the ending of a near-decade-long journey since the NBA first set up base in Mumbai in 2011. The foundation of an NBA Academy in Greater Noida in 2017 was one of the major steps in this journey.

On the other hand, the NBA India Games could also be viewed as the beginning of the league's next phase of business in the country. Does that mean more NBA Academies?

"The answer, again, is yes," Silver said. "It's just a question of timing. I realize, of course, with a nation of this geographical size and the enormity of the population, one academy is just putting one toe in the water."

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

Message to young Indians aspiring to play in the NBA

Silver - What I would say to the young players here is that at the end of the day, my experience almost 28 years now in the NBA, is that the best players are actually the hardest-working players..... Work hard and stick with it, be persistent and follow your dream.

MORE: NBA.com's exclusive interview with Vivek Ranadivé'

Ranadivé' - Yeah, I'd like to say if you're hungry, that's not good enough for me because hungry just means you haven't eaten for a while but the meal is coming. What I'm looking for is starving. Starving means that you've got to go find the meal. If you want to make it at the highest level of any sport but particularly the NBA, then the one resource that is readily available to all the youth -- and Indians have a long tradition of that -- is hard work.

So the harder you work and you just wake up starving every day and just work harder and harder, that's what I am looking for at the Kings.

Simon - I think it's all that and passion, that the players with the most passion and who work hard and believe in teamwork and working together usually succeed.

For more updates and stories on the NBA India Games 2019, you can follow NBA.com's page dedicated to the historic event.

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