The NBA has brought one of the greatest-ever shooters to have lived in Kevin Durant — albeit reluctantly, as he revealed once he left — to India. It regularly brings a host of players, be it current ones like Sacramento Kings small forward
Durant, Barnes, Horry — this was just the last two years. But as the week paces itself to the inevitable buzzer beater that the first NBA games in India will be (On October 4-5 at the NSCI Dome in Worli), there is no denying the fact that this is the biggest push made by the organisation in this country.
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The atmosphere of the game in itself will be unlike anything Indians have ever seen with regards to basketball. Everything from the wood-panelled basketball court, to the hoops to even the actual timer that will be used in the game, is all being flown in from the USA specifically for these two games. Both teams will have their halftime entertainment in the form of cheerleaders and mascots who are flying in along with both teams on October 2.
The idea is to recreate the atmosphere that a basketball game in Houston is like – in Mumbai. Vice-President of Global Business Operations Diane Gotua had spoken to Mirror last month and had said, “You’ll feel like you’re actually in an arena in Houston or New York – bringing that authentic NBA experience to Mumbai is key. But at the same time, we also want to add local flavour.” She added, “We want our players and league staff to say, ‘Wow that was an amazing global game’. There shouldn’t be a difference between a game played in Mumbai than a North American city.”
Harrison Barnes over a conference call this week said. “It’s very surreal for me to see the whole thing come full circle. From an Indian owning a team to playing the first game there. My teammates and everyone are really looking forward to it.”
There are multiple events planned along the actual games. The NBA prides itself on its community works and plan to hold multiple basketball clinics across the city in an effort to build up grassroot level basketball in the city as well. 3000 students from Reliance Jr. NBA sponsored schools from different parts of the city will exclusively get to see the first game that will be held on October 4. Interactive fan activities, development camps, and community outreach efforts are all part of the grand design over the next few days as Mumbai truly will witness what it is to play basketball at one of its higher, if not highest, peaks.