October 29, 2014

Former Champion Bruce Bowen to visit India for NBA Jam and Reliance Foundation events

A three-time NBA champion and one of the fiercest defensive players of his time, Bruce Bowen is set to visit India from October 31 - November 6. Bowen will be attending events at this season's NBA Jam in Kolkata, Gurgaon, Chandigarh, and Ludhiana. The week-long visit will be part of a promotional tour to support the growth of basketball and to connect with fans in India, and it happens at an opportune time, too: Bowen will get a chance to promote the new NBA season, which tipped off earlier today with his former team (and reigning champions), the San Antonio Spurs.

Bowen won all three of his NBA championship rings in San Antonio (2003, 2005, 2007), playing alongside the likes of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, and (briefly) David Robinson. Known for his fierce competitiveness on the defensive end and his ability to hit the occasional big shot, Bowen was named to five NBA All Defensive First Teams and three All Defensive Second Teams. Bowen retired in 2009 and the Spurs retired his jersey (12) two years ago.

Bowen will make the first official NBA player visit to Kolkata, and only the second trip by an NBA player to the 'City of Joy' since Kyle Korver in 2008, who was there for charity work. Bowen will also be the first NBA player to visit Ludhiana and Chandigarh; apart from the Delhi-NCR region, the majority of official NBA visits had been limited to further south in the country.

Bowen would make his first stop in Kolkata from October 31 to November 1, where he will engage with students at St. Xavier's College as part of NBA Jam. From Kolkata, he will travel to Gurgaon on November 2, where he will participate in a special fan engagement event. He will go to Chandigarh on November 4 to take part in the next leg of the NBA Jam at Punjab University. His final stop will be Ludhiana on November 5-6 at the Guru Nanak Stadium during the Reliance Foundation Junior NBA City Finals, where he will work with standout young players and coaches from across Punjab.

The NBA Jam is a hugely popular college basketball and youth festival, which is being held in a record 16 Indian cities this year from August 18 till December 4. The Reliance Foundation Jr. NBA programme is a school-based programme - held in eight Indian cities this year - which focuses on inspiring youth to adopt a healthy, active lifestyle by integrating basketball into each participating school’s physical education curriculum.

"I understand that the popularity of basketball is growing rapidly in India and that more and more children are picking up the game," said Bowen of his upcoming visit, "I can't wait to experience this myself and help train and interact with the promising young talents the country has to offer."

Yannick Colaco, NBA India Managing Director, said, "We are committed to the growth of basketball in India and Bruce Bowen's visit is another step forward in this endeavour."

Bowen's story is as remarkable as it is inspirational. Undrafted coming of out Cal State Fullerton in 1993, Bowen was a struggling basketball pariah, spending four years as a professional playing in France and for various teams in the former CBA. The Miami Heat finally brought Bowen to the NBA in 1997. He played for the Heat, Celtics, 76ers, and was back in Miami again before finally finding his eventual NBA home in San Antonio in 2001. The rest was history: Bowen was a perfect fit for the Spurs and became a regular starter as the team won three championships over the next six years.

Of course, we can't mention Bowen without mention the dark side, can we? Just YouTube search his name for a further exploration of Bowen's infamous antics, including a video hilariously named, 'Dirty Player Mix'.

Welcome to India, Mr. Bowen: hopefully your defensive intensity, competitiveness, and championship pedigree is able to rub off on the next generation of basketball players at the grassroots level in India.

1 comment:

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