‘India is NBA’s Fastest Growing Biz in Asia’
Now that basketball has become popular here, NBA wants India business to directly report to New York
Mumbai: Increasing popularity of basketball in India, coupled with the success of Satnam Singh and Sim Bhullar, has made the National Basketball Association (NBA) see a bigger opportunity in the country.
The premier men’s professional basketball league in North America has decided that it is time that the India business report directly to the association’s deputy commissioner.
“Since our launch of the Mumbai office in 2011, our India business has been reporting to Asia. We have seen that India has now become a big market and it should not report to the rest of Asia, but directly to the deputy commissioner in New York. We made this decision 45 days ago,” Mark Tatum, NBA’s deputy commissioner and chief operating officer, told ET.
India is NBA’s fastestgrowing business is Asia, he said. “It is one of the youngest markets as we have been here for just five years.”
While Tatum refused to share details on investments, he said India is a huge priority market for the NBA and it will “continue to make multimillion dollar investments in this marketplace to grow the game of basketball”.
In India, NBA operations are being looked after by Yannick Colaco, managing director of NBA India. He said the league has been focused on building basketball bottom up in India. NBA has hosted touring basketball events (NBA Jam), grassroots development programme (Reliance Foundation Jr. NBA) and talent search programme ACGNBA Jump in partnership with the ACG Worldwide Group (ACG) in India.
Local heroes are the key for the growth of basketball, both Tatum and Colaco said. A key reason for the NBA to become big in countries like China is local participation. “In the ACG Jump programme, we see a lot of quality players coming out of the country. We have a long-term view on this. We have been doing business in many other countries around the world for decades. We know that there are no short cuts to what we want to achieve,” said Tatum. “Over time, we have no doubt that there will be more and more players from India who will have skill level and ability to play in the NBA.” The league has launched a customised website for Indians in partnership with and The 120 Media Collective, a content creation and communications company. The geo-targeted NBA.com will offer Indian fans access to video highlights, game recaps, scores, stats and more. The responsive and mobilefirst digital destination will also provide extensive localised content, including podcasts hosted by local basketball personalities and a special section dedicated to Sim Bhullar — the first player of Indian descent to play in the NBA — and Satnam Singh — the first Indian to be drafted into the NBA.
Success of players like Sim Bhullar has helped popularise basketball in India