Over the past 35 years, Carlos Barroca carved up a legendary career as a leader in the game of basketball back in his home nation of Portugal. Now, he gets the opportunity to bring in that experience and leadership qualities to carve up a new legend in India.
Barroca joins the NBA India team at a crucial time: in India, the league is currently involved in various grassroots initiatives to grow the NBA brand as well as the brand of basketball, such as the Reliance Foundation Jr. NBA programme, NBA Jam, and more. The rise of the NBA in India will not be isolated from India's overall improving basketball fortunes, and Barroca will have to keep an eye on the Basketball Federation of India (BFI), the performances of the India's national squads, and the promise of a potential professional basketball league in the future. Meanwhile, India and the NBA have been drawing closer together abroad, too: an NBA team now has an Indian owner (Vivek Ranadive of the Sacramento Kings) who will be visiting India along with the NBA's new commissioner Adam Silver this December. Plus, the same team also made Canadian national Sim Bhullar into the first-ever player of Indian descent to be signed by the NBA.
In India, Justice will leave behind some big shoes for Barroca to fill. India can be a challenging place for many outsiders, but Justice took to the country's many idiosyncrasies with ease, and soon, became as popular draw across the country's grassroots basketball circles. From Kerala to Mumbai to Punjab and more, Justice traveled the length and breath of India over the past half a dozen years preaching the gospel of hoops. His personal approach to coaching, his acceptance of everything Indian, and of course, his deep knowledge of the game, all made him a fan favourite among both players and coaches in the country.
A personal thank you from my end to Justice for being just the right fit for basketball and for the NBA in India. He got his start in Indian basketball around the same time I did, and I will always remember our initial correspondences and meetings as we worked to help the game rise from the ground up. Of course, I will always remember our little trip to Aman's in Ludhiana for the best butter chicken in Ludhiana, but that's another story for another day.
Good luck to Justice for his endeavours ahead, and a warm welcome to Barroca, who will hopefully continue to expand on the path of his predecessor.