NBA keen to thrive on Bollywood factor in Mumbai: NBA VP Diane Gotua

Updated: Aug 23, 2019, 08:08 IST | Ronald Chettiar

The pre-season games featuring Indiana Pacers and Sacramento Kings will be played on October 4 and 5 at Worli's NSCI Dome.

NBA keen to thrive on Bollywood factor in Mumbai: NBA VP Diane Gotua
Diane Gotua, NBA's vice president global business operations

America's National Basketball Association (NBA) is ready to take a giant leap in India with two pre-season matches in Mumbai in October. And Diane Gotua, NBA's VP global business operations, said Indian fans will relish an authentic NBA experience with a tinge of Bollywood flavour thrown in. The pre-season games featuring Indiana Pacers and Sacramento Kings will be played on October 4 and 5 at Worli's NSCI Dome. Gotua said the atmosphere in Mumbai will be just like what fans experience at some of NBA's top venues like New York or Houston.

Taste of local flavour

"The owner of Sacramento Kings, Vivek Ranadive, insisted on having pre-season games in India and we are happy that it is finally happening. We want to ensure that whether you are in New York or Mumbai, fans get a similar experience. We want to bring that authentic NBA experience to Mumbai through these two games. One shouldn't be able to tell if the game is being played in Mumbai and an American city. At the same time, we also want to add some local flavour," Gotua said at the NBA office in Bandra-Kurla Complex yesterday. Mumbai got the nod for the matches given its Bollywood connection. "Since Bollywood is here, it had to be Mumbai. We want as many eyes as we can get. We want to get influential people involved so as to appeal to our market," said Gotua.

Pro league, a must

In a cricket-dominated country, NBA has struggled to create a fan base alongside sports like football, badminton and kabaddi, all of whom have franchise-based leagues in place. Gotua admitted that a franchise-based pro league is critical. "For any sport to sustain long-term growth, it's critical to have a pro league in place. I see the merits of the league and we are supportive of the idea. Pro leagues serve as a bridge between the sport and its fans. And that's why we have invested in the NBA Academy in India. Ultimately, that talent goes to the pro league," Gotua concluded.

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