August 18, 2010
It's time for Pau in India!
For all those in India STILL craving for an NBA fix, even after the Dwight Howard visit, here is something to excite your senses a little more. The news has been in the air for a while, but now it's official: Following last week's visit by NBA All Star Dwight Howard, basketball excitement is set to continue in India. For the first time, India will be visited by a reigning NBA Champion. Los Angeles Lakers forward/centre Pau Gasol will be visiting Mumbai and New Delhi from August 23-28, and he will be bringning the the Larry O' Brien Championship trophy to India for the first time. Gasol, who is a two-time NBA champion and also the reigning FIBA World Champion with his nation Spain, will conduct clinics at the Mahindra NBA Challenge and host a first-ever Live Fan Chat on NBA.com/india.
“I have always wanted to visit India and I am very excited to represent the Lakers and the NBA in a country where basketball is on the rise,” said Gasol. “As an international player in the NBA, I know how important it is to do my part to grow the game globally and would love to compete against a player from India in the NBA one day.”
Gasol will make appearances with the Larry O’Brien Trophy to take photos with fans in Mumbai and Delhi. This will be the first time that the trophy will be in India. He will also conduct clinics in Mumbai on Aug. 26 for participants of the Mahindra NBA Challenge, the league’s first community-based basketball league in India, which tipped off in Mumbai,Bangalore, and Ludhiana this summer and attracted thousands of participants, including top players from each city.
This past season, the NBA enjoyed its broadest reach ever in India through television and digital technology. To continue this momentum, Gasol will become the first NBA player to host a live fan chat on NBA.com/india during his trip.
Gasol will also conduct an NBA Cares clinic on Aug. 28 in Delhi at Father Angel School in Gautam Nagar, a missionary school that serves underprivileged communities. NBA Cares is the league’s social responsibility platform and these clinics will continue the NBA’s commitment to using the sport of basketball to engage communities and promote healthy, active lifestyles.
“Giving youth in India the unique chance to step onto a court and learn from a reigning two-time NBA champion will inspire more athletes to play the game of basketball,” said NBA President of International Heidi Ueberroth. “Pau is a great ambassador for the NBA and his visit is part of our continued efforts to work with our partners to increase participation in communities throughout India."
“Our goal is to increase basketball participation and improve the level of play in India and we are thrilled that the NBA shares our long term commitment to accomplish these goals,” said BFI Secretary General Harish Sharma.”
“Our collaboration with the NBA has generated a tremendous amount of interest for the sport in India, including the recent visit of All-Star Dwight Howard, and the arrival of NBA world champion Pau Gasol will help popularize the game even further.”
Thank you, NBA, the best way to follow the visit of an All-Star big man is to bring another All-Star big man. It also helps that he's a two time champion and a FIBA world champion. The Lakers are also a far more popular team in India (and everywhere else in world) than the Magic.
I'm not much of a Laker fan myself, but I love Gasol. Yes, yes, Kobe Bryant is one of the best players of our generation, but ever since Gasol was traded to LA from the Memphis Grizzlies, the Lakers have been to THREE STRAIGHT NBA Finals and won twice. Oh, and thad I mention that he's a world champion? With the Turkey Basketball World Championships right around the corner, there is no better time than now to welcome the last championship's brightest star. Too bad he won't be representing Spain this time around.
Also, I know everyone and their mother here will be trying to ask him how it feels to be playing alongside Kobe. I, for one, want to know how it's like partying with Ron Artest.