Adam Silver: NBA seriously considering franchise league in India

Updated: Oct 05, 2019, 08:18 IST | Ronald Chettiar | Mumbai

Adam Silver was talking to the media ahead of the first of the two NBA India Games between Sacramento Kings and Indiana Pacers at the NSCI Dome, Worli yesterday.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver (centre) is flanked by Sacramento Kings owner Vivek Ranadive (left) and Indiana Pacers owner Herb Simon during a press conference at the NSCI Dome yesterday. Pic/Atul Kamble
NBA commissioner Adam Silver (centre) is flanked by Sacramento Kings owner Vivek Ranadive (left) and Indiana Pacers owner Herb Simon during a press conference at the NSCI Dome yesterday. Pic/Atul Kamble

National Basketball Association (NBA) commissioner Adam Silver has said that the US association has been contemplating a franchise-based basketball league in India and believes the country will have its own league around five years from now.

Silver was talking to the media ahead of the first of the two NBA India Games between Sacramento Kings and Indiana Pacers at the NSCI Dome, Worli yesterday. The idea is similar to the NBA-initiated 12-team Basketball Africa League that begins in 2020.

Silver, who was accompanied by the Kings and Pacers owners Vivek Ranadive and Herb Simon respectively, however stressed that India needs to have top-class arenas before the league is established.

"We are seriously considering starting a league in India and feel in five years' time, we will have a league in this country. This is something that my friend Vivek [Ranadive] is pushing me on. Five years ago it was hard to believe that we could have an NBA game in India and now here we are hosting two games in this city. So I believe it's possible," said Silver before adding, "But before that we need to ensure that we have top-class facilities. This one [The NSCI Dome] here is a top stadium, but we had to import everything from the court to the scoreboard, so there is still a long way to go.

Elaborating on their future plans for India, Silver said that they want to take the game to India's schools and colleges. "We have been working with the Reliance Foundation along with the Junior NBA program to take the game to the grassroots in the country. And through that, we have reached around 10 million kids. Our next aim is to take the game to schools and colleges like it's in USA, where the kids carry on from college level and get drafted into the NBA," said Silver, who has been NBA boss since 2014.

Meanwhile, Ranadive said that he was immensely proud to be back in Mumbai, the city of his birth. "I left Bombay when I was 17 years old and literally I had just $50 in my pocket, so to come back here with my NBA team and also bring my friend Herb Simon with his team and to play an actual NBA game is beyond my wildest imagination.

I'm a Mumbaikar and I just want to thank my hometown. One of my players said that he's experienced a whole new level of soul and warmth and hospitality here. And my players are very thankful for that," said Ranadive.

The Indiana Pacers and Sacramento Kings are staying at the St Regis hotel in Parel.

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