December 16, 2010

Former NBDL VP Bobby Sharma joins IMG-Reliance in India

Press Release: IMG, the premier global sports and media company, announced today that Bobby Sharma has joined the company as Senior Vice President, Global Business Development, Basketball. Sharma joins IMG from the National Basketball Association (NBA) where he was Vice President & General Counsel of the NBA Development League (NBDL).

In his new role, Sharma will oversee the growth of IMG's basketball business around the world, including the emerging economies of India and Brazil. He will initially relocate to Mumbai, India to begin developing the company's exclusive commercial rights to basketball in that country, working as part of IMG Reliance (IMGR), a joint venture between IMG and Reliance Industries Ltd.

Earlier this year, IMGR acquired all commercial rights to basketball in India for a 30-year period. The pinnacle of IMGR's strategy for basketball in India will be the development of a professional basketball league in which players from around the globe will compete alongside Indian players at the highest level. Critical to the sustainable success of this project will be the development of the game at a grassroots level, the sourcing and development of local talent, and the re-organization and management of school and college leagues throughout the country to create a development platform for growing the talent pool of young Indian players, enhancing their opportunities to compete internationally and successfully represent India on the world stage.

Andrew Wildblood, Executive Vice President of IMG and Executive Director of IMGR said, "Bobby's appointment is a major step forward in IMG's commitment to developing the sport of basketball. In India, the IMG Reliance Scholarship program has already demonstrated that there are enormously talented young basketball players around the world with huge untapped potential. What is now required are highly efficient search and development processes to give that talent the chance it deserves to succeed, and high-caliber professional leagues in which for them to play. With successful talent pyramids in place, these leagues will thrive. With his experience developing the sport of basketball for almost a decade at the NBA, Bobby is the right person at the right time to help us achieve IMG's goals for the game around the world, both from a player and league development perspective."

"This is an enormous opportunity for me to make a lasting and meaningful contribution to the sport of basketball on a global level," Sharma said. "There is tremendous interest in the game in India and its dynamic market in particular, where more than half of the nation's population is under 25 years old, and just about every economic metric is headed in a positive direction. I'm excited to join the talented team of executives that IMG Chairman Ted Forstmann has put in place to help take the company to the next level."

During his tenure with the NBA, Sharma served as the Chief Legal Officer and a Senior Executive for the NBA Development League, the NBA's minor league, and its various operating entities. In this capacity, he oversaw various legal, business and basketball operational matters, and his responsibilities included management of all league and team agreements, and development and administration of all policies and procedures. Sharma was also responsible for related initiatives such as expansion and international league consulting. Areas of his focus included team ownership & operation, arenas, sponsorship, merchandise, marketing, intellectual property, broadcasting, product/digital content licensing, contests & sweepstakes, employment, anti-doping and security.

Prior to joining the NBA, Sharma practiced litigation in Washington, D.C., San Francisco, and in New York City with Cravath, Swaine & Moore. He also served on the presidential campaign staff of former U.S. Senator, and Basketball Hall of Famer, Bill Bradley.

Sharma, who holds a B.A. in history and a J.D. degree from Duke University, was the recipient of the 2010 Corporate Counsel award from the South Asian Bar Association of New York. In 2009, Korn/Ferry International named him one of the 25 Most Influential South Asian Executives in the Media & Entertainment Industry. Sharma was also nominated by the Association of Media & Entertainment Counsel for the 2008 Sports Counsel of the Year award.

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