National Basketball Association (NBA) may launch a professional basketball league in India in the next two to three years. After having organised NBA’s first ever pre-season games in India earlier this year, the North American professional basketball league is reportedly considering to start NBA the league’s overseas edition in the country.
If all goes well, India will get NBA’s second professional league outside North America. The first is coming in March next year in Africa – the Basketball Africa League. The BAL was announced in February this year and the logo has been launched last week.
NBA reportedly has a 110 million-strong fan base in India and about 78% audience of the pre-season India games have come from Hindi-speaking market. That opens a new market for the sport in the country.
NBA India Managing Director Rajesh Sethi has confirmed to business daily Economic Times that the league’s India edition may be launched by 2022-23. “The success of India games has triggered an inflection point for the NBA in India. While it has created a lot of buzz in India, it has also ticked many boxes for us. It has sent out a message internally that India is ready for the next leap. The games have also brought India on the radar of other teams and players,” the business daily has quoted Sethi as saying.
“We have worked on building an ecosystem for basketball in the country and a league will create a huge economic value for players too, who can then play in minor or major leagues.”
This is just the confirmation of NBA commissioner Adam Silver’s statement during his India visit for the Indiana Pacers-Sacramento Kings game that NBA was “seriously considering to launch a league in India within the next five years”.
NBA has been involved in grassroots-level programme Jr NBA with Reliance-Foundation or NBA Academy. The league can be the culmination of NBA’s prolonged efforts to capture the Indian market.
According to report, NBA India has already received interest from over 25 corporates to buy teams. “We are yet to finalise on how many teams / franchises should be there. It could be anything between 8 and 12, but currently, its work in progress,” Sethi has told ET. “We have also shortlisted 22 arenas,” he said and added that NBA India had 120 players and there will be international players who would want to come and play in the country. The main NBA League, which features 30 teams, drafts 450 players every season, of which over 100 are from outside of the US