MUMBAI, India — NBA commissioner Adam Silver said he’s giving “serious consideration” to starting a professional basketball league in India, perhaps in the next five years.
While Silver expressed hope for a potential league in India, he added that a lot of work had to take place nationwide in terms of facilities to reach that goal.
The NBA had to add seats, big video screens, lights and much more for the first-ever preseason game in India between the Sacramento Kings and the Indiana Pacers on Friday night at NSCI Dome. A source said the venue also had stray dogs and birds residing there in recent years.
“One of the things we need, though, is more of an arena infrastructure,” Silver said prior to Friday’s tip-off. “I think this is where [Sacramento Kings owner] Vivek [Ranadive] was a little ahead of the schedule that we might otherwise have been on. This is a fantastic facility we’re in today, but it required us bringing in a court, a scoreboard, seats, locker rooms. And it’s relatively small, certainly by NBA standards.
“I have had some interesting discussions with developers over the last two days here. I think it’s inevitable that there will be state-of-the-art arenas in major cities in India, in part because these are multi-use facilities and live entertainment is increasingly important here as well. Of course, a great arena can have concerts and other shows. But we do need to see those arenas over time in order to play more games.”
Ranadive, who is from Mumbai, envisions a pro basketball league in India one day — potentially called, “Monsoon Madness” — and has talked to the country’s prime minister about the idea. The NBA is starting its first internationally sanctioned professional basketball league outside of North America next year — the Basketball Africa League.
“It’s a game that can be played in cities and villages. It can be played inside, outside, by boys, by girls, one person, a few people, rich, poor. It doesn’t matter,” Ranadive said. “What I see happening, is that within the next 10 years, this game, it’ll never surpass cricket as the national pastime, but it’ll be right up there. And hopefully … we can launch a league right here in India.”
Silver appeared more optimistic about a player coming to the NBA and WNBA from India in the next five years.
“I hope that within five years we have an Indian player in the NBA,” Silver said. “And I think for serious consideration of a league, I’d use that same timing.”