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Sacramento Kings vs Indiana Pacers: The NBA Game That May Bring Donald Trump to India Next Month

Addressing nearly 50,000 Indian Americans in Houston at the ‘Howdy, Modi’ event in an appearance with PM Narendra Modi, Donald Trump on Sunday teased he would like to attend a game in Mumbai.

Ritayan Basu | @ritayanbasu

Updated:September 23, 2019, 4:50 PM IST
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Sacramento Kings vs Indiana Pacers: The NBA Game That May Bring Donald Trump to India Next Month
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump in Houston. (PTI)

New Delhi: Waking up at the break of dawn, or not sleeping at all, to not miss out on National Basketball Association action has been the reality for most fans in India. That will change come October 4 and 5 as for the first time, NBA will come to India with Sacramento Kings and Indiana Pacers facing off twice in two days at the NSCI Dome in Mumbai.

The matches, part of the official preseason schedule, is an attempt by the NBA to expand the game’s reach in India. In addition to the games, a talent search will be one of several initiatives in India along with Jr. NBA events and community outreach efforts benefiting fans of all ages, NBA had said earlier when announcing the dates for the games.

Apart from the game and the other promotional activities surrounding the two-day extravaganza, fans may have something more to look forward to - a visit from United States President Donald Trump.

Addressing nearly 50,000 Indian Americans in Houston at the ‘Howdy, Modi’ event in an appearance with PM Narendra Modi, Trump on Sunday teased he would like to attend a game in Mumbai.

"…Very soon, India will have access to another world class American product- NBA basketball. Wow, sounds good. Next week, thousands of people will gather in Mumbai to watch the first-ever, NBA basketball game in India," Trump said.

"Am I invited Mr Prime Minister? I may come, be careful, I may come," he said laughingly as Prime Minster Modi was seen smiling. Later, PM Modi also invited Trump to visit India with his family.

Though there has been no official confirmation, organisers of the event remained tight-lipped on the development, awaiting further confirmation.

Trump’s comments, serious or not, could help the NBA tap the serious basketball potential in the country as it brings more interest to the two matches. The game has already enjoyed a surge in popularity in China, which has become the biggest foreign market for NBA, helped by the emergence of emergence of Yao Ming.

Although there is no Indian star to drive the attention to the game in India, there are a few Indian connections to the teams – Indiana Pacers and Sacramento Kings.

Sacramento Kings’ current co-owner and franchise chairman is Vivek Ranadive, an Indian-American businessman who bought the NBA franchise as part of a group in 2013, after he sold his stake in the Golden State Warriors. The Kings also have Roy Rana as one of their three assistant coaches.

Sim Bhullar had become the first player of Indian-descent to play an NBA game, representing the Sacramento Kings in 2015. Since then, Satnam Singh has made history by becoming the first Indian player to be selected in the NBA Draft, as he was chosen by the Dallas Mavericks in the second round of the NBA Draft. The likes of Palpreet Singh, Amjyot Singh have also made their mark in basketball on American soil.

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