October 31, 2015

Basketball Federation of India pledges financial support to the family of Satnam Singh, first Indian drafted to the NBA

The Basketball Federation of India (BFI) has pledged a monthly stipend to support the family of Satnam Singh, who became the first Indian citizen drafted into the NBA earlier this year.

K. Govindraj, the president of 'Team Govindraj' faction of the BFI*, met Satnam along with members of NBA India on Monday, October 26, pledged Rs. 50,000 a month to Satnam's family. Satnam Singh hails from a farmer's family from Ballo Ke village in Barnala district of Punjab. The 19-year-old made history earlier this year by becoming the first Indian national to be drafted into the NBA, the world’s most competitive and elite professional basketball league in North America.

*(The BFI divided into two opposing factions with two executive committees and two different presidents earlier this year, Team Govindraj and Team Mahajan. Team Govindraj is currently running domestic and international events and have the backing of FIBA, while Team Mahajan is fighting for the BFI with the intervention of the Indian Olympic Association).

Explaining the reasoning behind this decision, Govindraj said, "By overcoming numerous obstacles, Satnam has immensely contributed in putting Indian basketball on the world map, and continues to bring positive attention to the sport within India. Even though he is still very young, he has already shown himself to be a capable role model for other Indian youth to aspire and realise their full potential."

Satnam has represented India's junior and senior national teams in the past. In this regard, he clarified his earlier comments on his availability to play for the country (he criticized Indian basketball infrastructure to The Times of India and mentioned that he wouldn't play for the national team right now). Satnam informed, and the NBA confirmed, that while his focus is on representing the NBA team who drafted him - the Dallas Mavericks - and its Developmental League affiliate Texas Legends, with enough advance notice he will be privileged to don national colours as long as it doesn’t conflict with his NBA commitments.

Good for Satnam and his family: his achievements totally deserve recognition and support. However, the BFI should consider saving some of those funds to develop grassroots basketball in India so more players can follow in Satnam's footsteps.

October 30, 2015

Sim Bhullar - first Indian-origin player in the NBA - traded to hometown Raptors 905 of D-League

Earlier this year, soon after becoming the first Indian-origin player to play in the NBA, Canadian seven-footer Sim Bhullar made a high-profile trip to his parents homeland, India, to promote the sport of basketball. Now, he is taking another trip homewards - this time to the city that truly honed him: Toronto.

Bhullar has been traded by the Sacramento Kings' affiliate NBA D-League team Reno Bighorns - where he played most of last season - to his hometown Toronto Raptors 905, who the D-League affiliate of the NBA's Toronto Raptors. Reno acquired guard Ricky Ledo in return for Bhullar from Toronto.

Bhullar spent most of last season in Reno, where he improved month by month and eventually finished the season with averages of 10.3 points, 8.8 rebounds, and D-League leading 3.87 blocks per game. The 7-foot-5 giant's performances (and of course, the potential of inspiring the Indian market) helped him earn a 10-day contract with the Sacramento Kings. He made his debut against the Minnesota Timberwolves towards the end of the 2014-15 NBA season, and made history on the way by becoming the first player of Indian-origin to play in an NBA game.

Bhullar, a Toronto native who also played for Canada's national team at the Pan-Am games, will bring additional excitement to home fans in Toronto as he plays for the 905 for the coming season. Hopefully his performances are able to earn him a return spot to the NBA with the Toronto Raptors.

NBA Jam returns to India for third year - more than a million students.. and Jason Richardson and Satnam Singh!

India's largest interactive youth basketball festival - NBA Jam tipped off its third season on October 28th. The travelling basketball festival will be held in a record 24 Indian cities for the next four months with plans to engage more than a million college students nationwide. India's first NBA draft pick Satnam Singh and former NBA player Jason Richardson will be among the special guests for the programme's tip off this year. You can register your team for the open 3x3 basketball tournament at: www.nbajam.in.

The traveling interactive youth festival will encourage and develop basketball participation across the country. In partnership with Sony SIX, NBA Jam powered by Jabong will provide an authentic basketball experience by combining exciting oncourt competition with lifestyle elements including interactive games, contests and live music performances. Through the strength of its association with college festivals, more than 3,500 teams from more than 1,000 colleges across the country will play in the event’s 3-on-3 tournament. NBA talent, including NBA legends and dunk teams, will travel to select cities to conduct clinics and interact with fans.

"NBA Jam powered by Jabong has grown tremendously over the last three years, and we are excited for its continued expansion as we travel to a record 24 cities this year," said NBA India Managing Director Yannick Colaco. "Along with our partners Jabong and Sony SIX, we are committed to growing the game in India by getting more fans of all ages to experience this unique festival."

Free registration for the 3×3 tournament within NBA Jam powered by Jabong is now open at www.nbajam.in. Registration is available for teams of men and women ages 16-24 who are enrolled in college at the time of the tournament. As the official NBA Jam apparel partner, Jabong will create an NBAStore.in Experience Zone at every NBA Jam venue that will allow fans to browse through the latest NBA merchandise and apparel on display. Fans who shop at these Experience Zones will also receive giveaways from Jabong and discounts for on-the-spot purchases.

Jam Schedule
  • October 28-29, 2015 Jalandhar (Lovely Professional University)
  • October 30-31, 2015 Ahmedabad (MICA)
  • October 31-1 Nov, 2015 Kanpur (IIT, Kanpur)
  • November 6-7, 2015 Goa (BITS, Goa)
  • November 13-14, 2015 Bhubaneshwar (Xavier's Institute of Management)
  • November 15-16, 2015 Jamshedpur (XLRI)
  • November 21-22, 2015 Lucknow (IIM, Lucknow)
  • Coming up
  • Bhopal
  • Nagpur
  • Surat
  • Coimbatore
  • Chennai
  • Guwahati
  • Bangalore
  • Kharagpur
  • Hyderabad
  • Kolkata
  • Pune
  • Kochi
  • Kozhikode
  • Delhi
  • Mumbai

Satnam Singh, the Punjab born 7-footed teen who became the first Indian citizen earlier this year to be drafted into the NBA (by the Dallas Mavericks) has been part of the promotional tour for the NBA Jam and was at the Lovely Professional University in Jalandhar for the programme's tip off yesterday. Additionally, former NBA player and two-time Slam Dunk champion Jason Richardson landed in India on Thursday, October 29th7, to begin a three-day promotional tour of the country for the NBA Jam and the continued growth of basketball in India. Richardson will travel to New Delhi, Ahmedabad (Gujarat), and Mumbai to conduct basketball clinics for players and coaches alike and engage with fans at two of NBA's premier events in India: the Reliance Foundation Jr. NBA programme and NBA Jam.
Richardson will make his first stop in New Delhi on October 29 where he will engage with Ramjas School students as part of the Reliance Foundation Jr. NBA programme . Then he will go to Ahmedabad on October 30 to participate in NBA Jam at the MICA Institute where fans will have the chance to meet him. Richardson will then visit Mumbai on October 31 for a live television appearance on Sony Six's NBA morning show 'Around the Hoop'.

"I understand that basketball is growing rapidly in India and I can't wait to experience the excitement firsthand," said Richardson, "It's encouraging to know just how many boys and girls across the country are picking up the sport and I look forward to meeting with some of the promising young talent India has to offer."

The 6-foot-six Richardson was the fifth pick from Michigan State in the 2001 NBA Draft by the Golden State Warriors. Over the course of his 14-year NBA career, he also played for the Charlotte Bobcats (now Charlotte Hornets), Phoenix Suns, Orlando Magic and Philadelphia 76ers before retiring in 2015. He was named in the NBA All-Rookie First Team in 2002 and is a two-time NBA Slam Dunk Champion (2002 and 2003).

Last year's NBA Jam visited 16 cities across India and reached more than 400,000 students.

October 28, 2015

2015 U16 FIBA Asia Championship: The full Team India roster, schedule, and preview

The youngest competitors at the Asian basketball stage are the under-16s; youth players who have shown potential for greatness, and get their first opportunity to represent their squads at the biggest stage in the continent. When the U16 FIBA Asia Basketball Championship (ABC) began in 2009, China - one of the continent's finest teams - jumped out in front and took charge of the future. The tournament has taken place every two years twice more, and China have won every single time, including the most recent championship held back in 2013 at at Tehran (Iran).

On Thursday, October 29, the tournament will return in full force to Jakarta (Indonesia), as China attempts to make it four out of four. India, meanwhile, have finished 10th, 10th, and 11th in the first three turns of the tournament, and the newest brigade of young players heading out for the 2015 FIBA Asia U16 Championship will hope to provide a boost and some encouraging results to showcase the bright future of Indian hoops. This tournament is a qualifying tournament for the 2016 FIBA Asia U17 World Championship.

India have been placed in Group D of the tournament with none other than reigning champions China, along with South Korea and Iraq. The 12-member boys squad, under the helm of coach Mahendra Singh Rathore, headed out to China a few days ago. Baladhaneshwar Poiyamozhi of Tamil Nadu was named team captain.

The tournament was initially supposed to be held in India itself - at Bengaluru - in July, but due to the troubles with India's own basketball federation, FIBA shifted the tournament to Indonesia and to a later date. Jakarta's BritAma Arena and GOR Pulogadung will be the two venues for the games.

Addressing the players before their departure, the Basketball Federation of India (BFI) secretary Chander Mukhi Sharma said, "You are the top talent in the country at your age group. The coaches have imparted their knowledge over the last few weeks to all of you. It is now your duty to perform to the best of your abilities and make the nation proud."

Preliminary Round Groups
  • Group A: Japan, Kuwait, Hong Kong, Malaysia.
  • Group B: Chinese Taipei, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Lebanon.
  • Group C: Philippines, Bahrain, North Korea, Thailand
  • Group D: China, India, Korea, Iraq.
Team India for the 2015 U16 FIBA Asia Championship
  • Swapnil Sharma
  • Manoj Singh Sisodia
  • Hansraj
  • Sorav Singha
  • Ankit Joshi
  • Muhammad Shiras Noushad
  • Harshwardhan Tomar
  • Baladhaneshwar Poiyamozhi
  • Joshua Jaison George
  • Amit
  • Adarsh Premsan Jayakumar
  • Kanwar Gurbaz Singh Sandhu
  • Head Coach: Mahendar Singh Rathore
  • Coach: Aju Jacob
  • Manager: Venkata Siva Naga Prasad Takasi
Preliminary Round - all timings IST
  • India vs. China - October 29 - 12:30 PM.
  • India vs. Korea - October 30 - 4:30 PM.
  • India vs. Iraq - October 31 - 4:30 PM.
The Second Round will be held between November 1-3, and the Final Round from November 5-7. India have to finish in the top three of the four preliminary round groups to qualify for the Second Round. China, as favourites will be the toughest to beat, while Korea - who are also in India's group - are the second-ranked youth team in the FIBA Asia rankings. India's (rank 10) best chance for a victory will be against Iraq (rank 16), but they will need their star young players - led by Baladhaneshwar - to perform at a high level. A second round appearance will ensure a 9-12 place finish for India, but if they want to emulate the seniors who finished top 8 in Asia this year, India will need to shock a few more teams in the Second Round and qualify for the Quarter-Finals.

October 27, 2015

Hoopdarshan Episode 19: NBA 2016-16 Season Preview with Vishnu Ravi Shankar

Good news: the 2015-16 NBA season is here! Better news: you get to hear three Indian accents break down the top storylines across the league to build your appetite. Hosted by Kaushik Lakshman and Karan Madhok, the new episode of Hoopdarshan features Vishnu Ravi Shankar, the co-founder of Indian basketball website Ekalavyas. Take a listen for our breakdown of the Thunder, Cavs, Spurs, Warriors, Bulls, Clippers, Satnam Singh, DeMarcus Cousins, and the sad fates of our own favourite teams. Finally, we offer our final predictions for MVP, the top individual awards, and eventually, the 2016 NBA champ.

Shankar and his law-school colleagues launched Ekalavyas.com a few years ago and it stands as one of the top sources of for Indian basketball news today. Shankar hosts his own podcast called 'NBA on Ekalavyas', has covered national and international basketball events all around India, and secured interviews with foreign and domestic basketball players for Ekalavyas in recent years.

Starting with each of our favourite teams (Mavericks, Knicks, Lakers), we move on in Episode 19 to talk about the top storylines of the upcoming season, including Durant's return for the Thunder, Aldridge's fit with the Spurs, LeBron's quest to bring Cleveland a title, the Warriors' quest to be respected as reigning champions, the Clippers quest to be successful villains, the Bulls' prospects under a new coach, and more. We also digress into a couple of #ManCrush moments (Kawhi, Boogie, Rubio, Mirotic, Hezonja) and make infallible (or perhaps totally flawed) end-of-season predictions. Listen in and prime yourself for the upcoming season!

Hoopdarshan aims to be the true voice of Indian basketball, and since we're such hopeless fans of the game, it will become the voice of everything basketball related we love, from the NBA to international hoops, too. On every episode of Hoopdarshan, we will be inviting a special guest to interview or chat to about a variety of topics. With expert insight from some of the brightest and most-involved people in the world of Indian basketball, we hope to bring this conversation to a many more interested fans, players, and followers of the game.

Make sure to follow Hoopdarshan on Soundcloud or search for 'Hoopdarshan' on the iTunes Store! Auto-sync Hoopdarshan to your preferred podcast app NOW!

Hoopdarshan can be found on...

    October 26, 2015

    India out in Quarter-Finals of 3x3 Premier. EXE World Games; CanadaPrime win gold

    India's National 3x3 basketball Men's team representing the country at the 3x3 Premier.EXE World Games 2015 performed well at the group stage on the tournament's opening day (Saturday, October 24) but were ousted in the quarter-finals on the second and final day (Sunday, October 25) by Japan. Japan went on to eventually lose in the final on Sunday to Canada Prime.

    Held in Chengdu, China, 12 club and national teams from around the world took part in the two-day tournament. India's four-member squad in this shortest format of the game featured national team breakthroughs Akilan Pari, Vinay Kaushik, Gurvinder Singh Gill, and Arvind Arumugam.

    India were placed in Group C of the qualifying round with Korea Jeonju and Japan Dreams. India played well in both games on Saturday, beating Korea Jeonju 20-11 and then running past Japan Dreams 21-12 to top their group.

    Now qualified for the knockout stage, India faced another Japanese opponent - this time Japan's national team - in the tournament's quarter-final. Japan raced ahead to a 21-13 win and thus halted India's progress.

    Canada Prime beat Japan in the final to win the tournament. 

    “Barring Akilan, we are new to this format but still performed very well," said Arumugam, "We are happy to have made it to the knockout stages in our first attempt. If we familiarise ourselves with this version of the game, I’m sure we can become one of the top teams in Asia,” 
    "Personally, I have gained a lot in confidence and experience over the last two days, since 3x3 is a lot faster than traditional 5 on 5," said Gill.

    October 24, 2015

    India's campaign at 3x3 Premier.Exe World Games begins today

    High off their 8th place finish from the recent FIBA Asia Championship - the best in 12 years - four key members from the Indian men’s basketball team are all set to return to China to participate in the 3x3 PREMIER.EXE World Games 2015.

    The squad, comprising of Akilan Pari, Vinay Kaushik, Arvind Arumugam, and Gurvinder Singh Gill, flew out to Chengdu, China to take part in the tournament, which is set to be held on October 24-25 at Chengdu's Ito Yokado.

    12 teams from across the globe are participating in this shortest format of competitive basketball, divided into four Pools of three teams each. India is the only team coming under a national team banner, while teams from hosts China, Japan, Korea, Canada, Greece and Slovenia are also taking part.

    India is placed in Pool C alongside Korea Jeonju and Japan Dreams.

    The tournament is structured in a preliminary league cum knockout format. The top two teams from each Pool qualify to the knockout stages. The winners and runners up will be awarded prize money of USD 5000 and 3000 respectively, while a supplementary prize will also be given to the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the tournament.

    Team India: Akilan Pari, Vinay KaushikArvind Arumugam, Gurvinder Singh Gill.
    Participating Teams: 
    Pool A: Greece Tigers, China Turn Up, Japan Stars
    Pool B: Japan National Team, China 30+, Slovenia SportClub
    Pool C: Korea Jeonju, Japan Dreams, India.
    Pool D: China Dalishuishou, Korea Busan, Canada Prime
    India’s preliminary round schedule for 24th Oct*

    Game 1vs Korea Jeonju2:28 pm IST [4:58 pm local time]
    Game 2vs Japan Dreams4:25 pm IST [6:45 pm local time]
    *Knockout rounds will be played on 25th Oct.

    October 22, 2015

    ACG-NBA Jump: Talent search programme to find India's next basketball star


    You're talented. I mean, really talented. You wake up early to spend time on the basketball court, come home early from school to keep playing, and make the court your bedroom, your kitchen, your hangout, and your pilgrimage all weekend. None of your friends have been able to defeat you yet, and every team you join ultimately wins at pick-up games. You are the best player in your school team, have had the opportunity to represent your district and your state at official tournaments, and have real hopes of wearing an 'India' jersey in the future.

    But, beyond your achievements, you spend your time off the court watching the NBA on TV or highlights on YouTube. You want to ball like Durant, Davis, LeBron, and Westbrook. You want to ball alongside Curry, Harden, Paul, and Griffin. You want to wear an NBA jersey. You dream of it so much that you can hardly sleep.

    You have the talent and the drive. But how are you ever going to get there? How will the NBA even know of your existence?

    Behold! The path to turning your dream into a reality is about to become a lot clearer.

    Earlier this year, Satnam Singh from Ballo Ke village in Punjab made history by becoming the first Indian to be drafted into the NBA, when he was picked 52nd by the Dallas Mavericks. The NBA has partnered with the ACG Worldwide Group to launch the first-ever talent search programme in India to identify players who can follow in the footsteps of Satnam.

    The ACG-NBA Jump programme is set to provide basketball players between the ages of 18-22 from around the country the opportunity to develop their skills and one top player from the programme would also receive the opportunity to attend the NBA Development League (NBA D-League) National Tryout in the United States, reported an AP news report on FirstPost.

    The programme would be split into three phases. In the first phase, six regional, one-day elite camps will be held in six cities: Delhi (Oct 26), Chandigarh (Nov 21), Hyderabad (Nov 28), Mumbai (Dec 12), Kolkata (Jan 9), and Chennai (Jan 16). According to a report on the Times of India, around 3-5 international coaches from across the globe will conduct the open try out session in all the six cities.The second phase would consist of a national elite training camp where 32 players selected from the six regional camps would assemble for a four-day training period. In the third and final phase, one top player from the national elite training camp would be selected to attend the NBDL Tryout in the USA for the opportunity to earn a spot on a D-League roster. The selected player would continue to undergo training up until the tryout in June 2016. Sony SIX, the official broadcaster of the NBA in India, will create a feature around ACG-NBA Jump, following the programme through its various stages and tracking the winner till his NBA D-league tryout.

    Satnam will himself be present to launch the ACG-NBA Jump at the Thyagaraj Stadium in New Delhi on October 26.

    "We strongly believe in the potential of India's youth and believe in empowering them through sport. ACG-NBA Jump is an equal opportunity programme for many who are talented but may not have the access," said ACG Director Karan Singh.

    "This programme is part of ACG Cares Foundation and we are sure that with more programmes like this, India's basketball teams will have a richer talent pool to choose from. With the help of such programmes, we are confident that India's performance on international platforms such as the Olympics and Asian Games will improve," he added.

    "ACG-NBA Jump is the next step in our continued commitment to grow the game of basketball in India," said NBA India Managing Director Yannick Colaco.

    "With Sim Bhullar becoming the first player of Indian descent to play in the NBA and Satnam Singh becoming the first Indian-born player to be drafted into the NBA, basketball playing youth in India now have relatable figures to look up to, and this programme will give them the opportunity of a direct path to the professional ranks," he added.

    Satnam's journey to the NBA came to realization through a mixture of talent and luck. Satnam was a seven footer by the time he was 14 and began to dominate Indian junior tournaments. Around the same time, IMG Reliance decided to provide its first (and thus far, only) scholarship programme to take young Indian players to High School and basketball training to Bradenton in Florida. Over at the IMG Academy, Satnam received world-class coaching and top exposure to improve enough by 19 that he eventually got on the NBA radar, and thus, was able to be drafted.

    The 'Satnam model' may never be replicated again, but the ACG-NBA Jump should be able to cast a wider net and provide a goal for more young NBA aspirants in India to aim for. You don't need to be seven feet tall to be noticed anymore; if you have talent and can stand out (in any way) against other top competitors, you can be the next big Indian basketball star. What more, you are set to receive high-level coaching on the road to your goal; the winner of the competition and all other participants can all benefit from the teaching and come out of this programme as better basketball players.

    So keep playing, keep practicing, and keep competing. There is hope now. Those NBA dreams should start becoming a little more vivid. It's still a long road: the best among the best of the talent crop has to be selected as a high performer from his city, be the best among an elite group of 32, impress enough at a D-League camp against other hungry and talented players from all around the world, and play well enough for his D-League team to even get a sniff at an NBA jersey. But hey, nobody said that making the NBA - featuring the best basketball players in the planet - was ever going to be easy. Only the best from India can master the path to greatness; but now, at least there's a path.

    Hopefully, there will be more Indians competing for a spot in the NBDL or the NBA in the near future, and eventually, the talent pool of India basketball as a whole improves, too.

    You can find more information and register for the ACG-NBA Jump at their official website here.
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    October 21, 2015

    Five more years of NBA basketball and (with new content!) on Sony SIX in India

    The National Basketball Association (NBA) and Sony SIX - a television channel operated by Multi Screen Media (MSM) - are set to extend their profitable and high-profile marriage for five more years, in a deal estimated at around Rs. 250 crore (reported NitiCentral). The deal allows MSM and Sony SIX to continue to hold broadcast rights for NBA games and related NBA programmes in India.

    This is great news all the way through. The partnership between MSM and the NBA was first announced in the 2010-11 season. A few years ago, the NBA and Sony SIX made a landmark decision to show two live NBA games daily during the course of the regular season, adding to a mammoth 14 live NBA games in India per week! As time passed and the NBA's popularity and viewership grew, SIX added many more supporting programmes to their NBA package, including India's first wrap-up show NBA Weekly, an Indian version of the iconic NBA Inside Stuff, grassroots events like NBA Jam from India, and more.

    This season, all of the above is set to continue: two games everyday during the season, special All Star Weekend, Playoffs, and Finals coverage, condensed version of games at primetime in India, and other wrap-up shows. Additionally, IndianTelevision.com reported that Sony SIX will also create customized lifestyle-oriented, off-the-court programming from the NBA, Sony entertainment and Bollywood.

    Via IndianTelevision.com

    Sony SIX and KIX business head Prasana Krishnan commented, "Our partnership with the NBA has seen basketball become the fastest growing sport in India over the last few years. This clearly indicates that the TV viewing audience for the NBA will continue to rise. The launch of our customized local LIVE NBA wraparound program will also bring sports fans closer to the on-court action."
    NBA India managing director Yannick Colaco asserted, "We are excited to extend our partnership with Sony SIX to continue delivering comprehensive coverage of the NBA to our fans. The popularity of the NBA continues to grow and, through the diversity of NBA programming on Sony SIX, we will continue attracting and engaging with existing and new viewers alike across India."
    Sony SIX will continue to broadcast daily and weekly NBA highlight shows and integrate daily content from NBA TV, including team previews and recap shows. The daily 30-minute highlight programs will be broadcast in prime time every day of the season. The weekly highlight shows, hosted by a local anchor, will recap all the happenings around the NBA during the past week.
    For the first time in India, the NBA and Sony SIX will introduce a customized, local live NBA wraparound program every weekend throughout the season, bringing viewers closer to the game. The program will be hosted by a panel of basketball experts that will provide analysis and insight on all of the latest NBA news.

    During the previous NBA Finals, Sony SIX's Krishnan had also mentioned the channels desire to chase viewership, not brands, while Colaco added that the NBA has been growing at 'triple digit percentile' in every aspect, including merchandise, social media engagement, and TV viewership in India.

    The upcoming season's broadcast on Sony SIX is set to begin on October 24th (this Saturday!), while the new NBA season tips off on Wednesday, October 28th!

    October 18, 2015

    SLAM Top 50: Carmelo Anthony, no. 13

    The definitive ranking of the NBA's best players for 2015-16.

    This feature was originally published for SLAM Online for their 2015 SLAM Top 50 series on October 8, 2015. You can find my original version here.

    New season. Healthy legs, weight loss, jumper touching nothing but net, team chemistry high, buying into a new system, great coach, great owners, great teammates, all smiles, happy times.

    NBA Media Day—and the ensuring positivity in the early days of training camp—is the most optimistic time of the season. Every team in the league is (allegedly) in love with itself, every player (reportedly) loves his coach, there are 30 potential NBA champions, dozens of MVP aspirers, #MuscleWatch is at an All Time high, and the future (apparently) holds nothing but smiles and joy.

    Then the season begins. The optimism deflates. The best laid plans of mice, men, and Melo are disrupted, and Father Time chugs along with cold ruthlessness.

    Seasons change and the NBA season ends. We get a year older, slower, and closer to the end.

    New season. Healthy legs, weight loss, jumper touching nothing but net, team chemistry high, buying into a new system, great coach, great owners, great teammates, all smiles, happy times.


    It’s near the end of 2015, and eight All Star, a half dozen All NBA teams, a scoring title, and 12 full years as an NBA professional later, just how good is 31-year-old Carmelo Anthony?

    Is he the promised 2003 third-pick and champion from Syracuse, one of the greatest offensively-gifted players of our generation, a revolutionary forward blessed with the arsenal to confound defenders of any given era in the league, and the saving face of the NBA’s longest-tenured and most title-hungry franchise?

    Or is he the living embodiment of talent unfulfilled, a one-dimensional gunner whose style belongs in a bygone era of the league, a player who could never learn to turn individual gifts into collective success?

    In many ways, Carmelo Kyam Anthony is the most confounding player in the NBA. Every NBA player—particularly a player with otherworldly talents beyond the comprehension of us mere mortals—enters the league with questions. With a path in front of them, and with the ability to carve out their own journeys and their own legacies. For most superstar talents of Melo’s past, present, and future, those questions have either already been answered or their potential make it clear for us to project the answers in their trajectory.

    From the fabled 2003 draft class, LeBron’s a two-time champ, four-time MVP, and the greatest player of our generation. Darko Milicic is out of the league, kickboxing in Eastern Europe and shining his 2004 championship ring. Dwyane Wade has three rings of his own and has etched his name as the All-Time face of the Miami Heat franchise. Chris Bosh found his place alongside LeBron and Wade in the Heatles as a champion and an All Star of his own right.

    As time passed, the superstars of the past (Kobe, Duncan, Garnett, Pierce) solidified their Hall of Fame status, new faces (Durant, Westbrook, Curry, Harden, Griffin) challenged the old ones, and the future (Anthony Davis, Andrew Wiggins) time-travelled at light-speed to merge with the present.

    And then there is Carmelo Anthony, who at 31 after a dozen years in the league, remains in unfulfilled enigma. Gifted, but not well-rounded enough. A superstar, but no MVP. A winner, but not a champion. Good, but not quiet great. Almost perfect, but not quite.

    Despite his talents, Melo has remained in a Kafkaesque repetitive rut through the course of his NBA career, from Denver to New York to Team USA. Every year, he shows his ability to stand among the greatest in the game and match them—offensively, at least—on any given night. When he wears the USA jersey, he fits in like butter on toast, disregarding all other responsibilities to master the most dangerous weapon in his arsenal: scoring points. He enjoys stretches of dominance, does well enough to become an All Star, and (almost) always makes the playoffs.

    But every year, the promise is halted and the legend is postponed. Every year, despite his individual talents, Carmelo Anthony comes up short. With the exception of Chris Paul, no NBA superstar has enjoyed such a long stretch of individual dominance with such a short stretch of playoff experience. Some years, the opponents were simply too deep and too talented. Some years, he could discredit his teammates, the relationship with his coach, or the dark moods of his franchise. Some years, he would make the wrong gambles with his own free agency. Some years, his own body would break down on him.

    But at the start of every new season, the smile would return to his face. The optimism. The preparation. The determination to finally break through again. To finally be better than good, to be great.

    So, two years after being the NBA’s leading scorer, robbing a First MVP vote off LeBron James, and leading his Knicks to second-place in the East, just how good is Carmelo Anthony?

    In many ways, 2015-16 could finally be the season where the book on Melo’s career reaches its tipping point. The next chapter could forever decide his legacy: as a player who deserves to be named among the finest in his generation, or be labelled a constant underachiever forever.

    Unfortunately for Melo, the Knicks’ prime isn’t aligned with his own. While he hopes to squeeze out every last bit of juice of his finest basketball players to win now, his team rebuilds in a hope to win later. No matter how good he performs this season, it seems to be destined that the 2016 summer will end more or less in the same way as every summer before for the last 12 years: disappointment, discontent, frustration, and distress.

    And then there will be another new season. Healthy legs, weight loss, jumper touching nothing but net, team chemistry high, buying into a new system, great coach, great owners, great teammates, all smiles, happy times.


    October 15, 2015

    Minnesota Lynx win yet another WNBA title; making 2015 their 3rd in 5 years

    With another title to their loaded trophy case, the Minnesota Lynx have become the greatest WNBA team of this generation and now have hopes of challenging the greatest teams of All Time.

    The Lynx picked up their third WNBA title in five years by defeating the Indiana Fever in Game 5 of the 2015 WNBA Finals on Wednesday, October 14. In the process, they became only the third team in the WNBA to win at least three championships. The Lynx victory game in a closely-fought Finals series over the last few weeks against the Indiana Fever, who last won a WNBA trophy in 2012.

    It was a back and forth Finals series between two equally talented squads. Indiana stole Game 1 on Minnesota's floor with a 75-69 win, but Minnesota bounced back to win Games 2 and 3 home and away by a close margin each time. Facing elimination at home, Indiana won Game 4 by six to extend the series to a winners-take-all finale. Playing at home, Minnesota showed their class in Game 5, making it the most lopsided game of the series after halftime to win 69-52 and securing the 3-2 series victory.

    Minnesota's 30-year-old Center Sylvia Fowles - who averaged 15.6 points and 9.4 rebounds per game in the Finals - was named the Finals MVP in her very first season with the Lynx. Teammate Maya Moore led her team in scoring in the Finals (19 ppg) and captured her third championship, adding to her glittering legacy. Their efforts survived a strong challenge from Indiana's Tamika Catchings and Shenise Johnson all series.

    The Lynx were zoned in for a special season all the way through. They finished first in the Western Conference and second in overall record (after the New York Liberty) by the time the regular season ended. In the playoffs, Minnesota defeated the Los Angeles Sparks 2-1 in the First Round and swept last year's champions Phoenix Mercury 2-0 in the Conference Finals. In the East, Indiana defeated Chicago Sky and 2015 season MVP Elena Delle Donne 2-1 in the First Round and upset the Liberty 2-1 in the Conference Finals to set up the engaging Finals clash against the Lynx.

    October 14, 2015

    Satnam Singh and India featured in NBA's new ad campaign!

    Why do we play basketball?

    The NBA has a long history of inspirational and amazing ad campaigns to preview an upcoming season or playoffs. Remember the legendary 'Where Amazing Happens' series? Or how the NBA went BIG? One of my favourites was when the league brought together with some deft video-shopping the greatest players from the past and present into the 'Forever' ad on TNT.

    With just two weeks to go for the start of the 2015-16 NBA season, the NBA is back with a brand new ad campaign: "This is why we play." And they released the first spot from this campaign named "Anthem" in full just two days ago.

    Surprise, surprise. For the first time, the official NBA ad has a distinctly Indian flavour to it.

    India has taken a few important steps to becoming an attractive hoops destination and major NBA market in recent years. There is now an Indian majority-owner in the league (Vivek Ranadive - Sacramento Kings), there was the first Indian-origin player to play in the NBA (Sim Bhullar - Sacramento Kings), and the biggest news yet: a 7-footed teenager made it all the way out of his little pind in Punjab to become the first Indian citizen drafted into the league (Satnam Singh - Dallas Mavericks). Back home in India, the NBA has expanded its grassroots presence considerably over the last few years and have more viewership for their broadcasts than ever before.

    So its only right that the NBA decided to give a slight nod towards India as they prep for what hopes to be the biggest season ever for the Indian audience. The 'This is why we play: Anthem' ad begins in India, with kids in Mahindra NBA Challenge jerseys in Mumbai cheering on a dunk recorded on Google Glass. The dunker, who was not visible, was an Indian kid, carried up to the basket by none other than Sim Bhullar. Bhullar made a surprise stop at the YMCA Bandra in Mumbai during his India trip this summer.

    Around the 45 second mark, India is seen again. This time, it's a photograph of Satnam Singh and his family visiting the Golden Temple in Amritsar during Satnam's first visit back to his homeland after getting drafted 52nd by the Mavericks. A second later, we see a clip of the moment Satnam is drafted, and of the emotional, overjoyed big man wiping his teary eyes at the realization of his biggest dreams. Satnam has played for the Mavericks in the Summer League, and although he's been promised a chance with the D-League's Texas Legends, it is still unclear if he'll make their roster. Still, being drafted was a great barrier-breaking achievement which deserves to be recognized.

    The rest of the minute-long ad meshes together the NBA's international reach with some of its biggest stars. There are scenes from China and Africa, of Stephen Curry as a child and of Kevin Durant in Rucker Park. We see Magic and Bird, Willis Reed, Jerry West, and Reggie Miller. We see LeBron James, Zach LaVine, Yao Ming, Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh. We see Wheelchair Basketball players and grannies playing hoops. The clip features the first openly-gay player in the NBA (Jason Collins), the first womens assistant coach (Becky Hammon), and of course, the first Indian (Satnam). We see championship, celebrated by the players who won them and the fans to celebrated.

    It's a great ad, and it's able to pack in a myriad of basketball emotions - beyond the NBA - under 60 seconds. Hopefully, the future ads in this series are just an inspiring (and just as flavoured with Indian masala!)

    October 13, 2015

    Hoopdarshan Episode 18: Cricket vs. Everything with Jamie Alter‏

    Hoopdarshan is back! On Episode 18 of India's finest basketball podcast, hosts Kaushik Lakshman and Karan Madhok catch up with Indian cricket and sports journalist extraordinaire, Jamie Alter. Alter, the Sports Editor of Times of India Digital, explains to us the popularity of cricket in India, what other sports like basketball can learn from cricket's success, and finds parallels between Sachin, Jordan, LeBron, and Yuvraj Singh.

    Apart from his current gig for TOI Digital, Alter has previously worked for Cricinfo, All Sports Magazine, and Network 18. He's written/edited websites like cricketnext, IBNlive, and gocricket. He has also authored two books: History of World Cup Cricket and Field of Dreams: The story Behind Dr. DY Patil Sports Stadium.

    We discuss a wide range of enlightening and entertaining issues in this podcast, including India's performances at the recent FIBA Asia Basketball Championship, the continuing political rift for leadership of the Basketball Federation of India (BFI), how the IPL model is inspiring other sports leagues, and if there is a real future for basketball in the country.

    Hoopdarshan aims to be the true voice of Indian basketball, and since we're such hopeless fans of the game, it will become the voice of everything basketball related we love, from the NBA to international hoops, too. On every episode of Hoopdarshan, we will be inviting a special guest to interview or chat to about a variety of topics. With expert insight from some of the brightest and most-involved people in the world of Indian basketball, we hope to bring this conversation to a many more interested fans, players, and followers of the game.

    Make sure to follow Hoopdarshan on Soundcloud or search for 'Hoopdarshan' on the iTunes Store! Auto-sync Hoopdarshan to your preferred podcast app NOW!

    Hoopdarshan can be found on...

      October 12, 2015

      Income Tax (Chennai) win 2015 Mulki Sunder Ram Shetty Basketball Tournament in Bengaluru

      For five days, eight of India's top basketball clubs and states gathered together in Bengaluru for the 2nd Mulki Sunder Ram Shetty All India Basketball Tournament, an invitational championship held at the city's Sri Kantaveera Stadium. Eventually, the tournament's finale pitted together Chennai's Income Tax and Dehradun's ONGC in a memorable clash. Income Tax's impressive first half effort set the tone for them, as they outlasted ONGC to win the final 70-56 and lift the winner's trophy.

      Tipping off on October 7, the tournament was organized and sponsored by Vijaya Bank and held in the memory of the Late Mulki Sunder Ram Shetty, a longstanding former Chairman who was instrumental in the growth of the bank through the 60s and 70s. It was held under the auspices of the Basketball Federation of India (BFI) and the Karnataka State Basketball Association (KSBBA).

      ONGC were in the final of the tournament for the second consecutive year after finishing as runners-up in the tournament's debut a year ago. Despite having veteran international big names in the squad, ONGC were missing star Indian center Amrit Pal Singh (playing professionally in Japan) and had to contend with an injured Yadwinder Singh. Early in the game, a scuffle got Yadwinder, ONGC teammate Murali Krishan and Income Tax's Ravi Kumar all throw out of the game.

      Income Tax made the most of their slight advantage by taking a huge early lead and stretching it out to 44-24 by halftime. Despite the best efforts of India captain and ONGC's Vishesh Bhriguvanshi (24) in the second half, Income Tax did enough to keep their lead secure and win 70-56. Ram Kumar (22) and international big man Rikin Pethani (19) led the way for the winning side.

      Income Tax's MA Raghuram was named the tournament's MVP while his teammate Ram Kumar was given the Most Promising Player award.

      Earlier in the day, home team Vijaya Bank - led by Anil Kumar (26) and Arvind (19) - outlasted Thiruvanathapuram's Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) in a highly competitive clash to win the bronze medal in the tournament. KSEB's Alvin Baby scored 32 points and helped his squad lead a charge back in the game's second half, but Vijaya Bank did just enough to win the game 65-61.

      Final: Income Tax (Ram Kumar 22, Rikin Pethani 19) bt ONGC (Vishesh Bhriguvanshi 24, Riyazuddin 14) 70-56 [20-10, 24-14, 17-19, 9-13].

      Final Standings
      • 1. Income Tax
      • 2. ONGC
      • 3. Vijaya Bank

      October 11, 2015

      2015 Junior Nationals: Tamil Nadu Boys and Chhattisgarh Girls win title in Ludhiana

      In one of the most hallowed grounds for Indian basketball, the next generation of the country's basketball stars (under 18s) showcased their skill-sets and their potential, the future merged into the present, and new stars were born. The 66th Junior National Basketball Championship for Boys and Girls were held at the Guru Nanak Stadium in Ludhiana (Punjab) from October 2-9. At the tournament's finale on Friday, October 9th, Tamil Nadu Boys rose above the competition to win the gold medal, while Chhattisgarh's unstoppable girls team notched another victory, completing an impressive threepeat in the championship.

      The 'Junior Nationals' were organized by the Punjab Basketball Federation under the aegis of the Basketball Federation of India (BFI). 24 teams each in the boys' and girls' section from all over India participated.

      Both the defending champions from last year - Chhattisgarh Girls and Punjab Boys (who also enjoyed a strong home support - reached the final again this year and had the opportunity to repeat. Chhattisgarh faced an improving Karnataka squad in the final that turned out to be a classic battle between two rising stars of the game, Chhattisgarh's Riya Verma and Karnataka's Bhandavya HM, who had recently returned from national team duty for India at the 2015 FIBA Asia Basketball Championship. While Chhattisgarh started as favourites, it was Karnataka that took the strong early lead, opening up a 24-11 advantage in the first quarter. Karnataka had command for the majority of the game, and found themselves holding on to a comfortable 54-39 lead before the final period began. But it was the fourth quarter that showed Chhattisgarh's true mettle: In a comeback for the ages, Chhattisgarh caught fire from the three-point line in the fourth to outscore Karnataka 28-9 in the period, eventually holding on to a slim 67-63 lead as time expired. Riya Verma scored 37 points in the game, including five three-pointers in the fourth quarter alone. Bhandavya HM had 31 for Karnataka in the loss.

      Starting as reigning champions and hosts, Punjab were certainly the favourites in the boys' final. But they were facing a deep and experienced Tamil Nadu squad. The two teams matched their firepower in another final for the ages. Little separated the two teams in this back and forth contest. TN had a slim, 43-40 lead at halftime, which Punjab quickly recovered, and then lost again. And back and forth they went. R. Hari Ram (21) managed to put TN up in front in the final minute by getting to the charity stripe and knocking down clutch free-throws. His teammate Baladhaneshwar (18) forced a crucial turnoA ver with under a minute to go in the game by stealing the ball from Rahul Mehla (28). TN won the game 91-86. A. Daniel Richards added 16 for the winners, while Mehla's effort for Punjab was aided by Jaipal Singh Mann (19).

      Photo Courtesy: Ekalavyas
      The winners, Chhattisgarh girls and Tamil Nadu boys, were awarded gold medals and cash prizes of INR 75,000 each. The second placed teams, Karnataka girls and Punjab boys were awarded silver medals and INR 50,000 each, while the third placed teams, Kerala girls and Delhi boys were awarded INR 30,000 each.

      Satnam Singh, the product of Ludhiana's Basketball Academy who this summer made history by becoming the first Indian player to be drafted into the NBA, was present at the awards ceremony of the Junior Nationals and greeted the participating players.

      The boys’ Most Valuable Player was awarded to R. Hari Ram from Tamil Nadu. Chhattisgarh captain Riya Verma won the girls’ Most Valuable Player.

      Photo Courtesy: Ekalavyas
      In the third-place games earlier on Sunday, Kerala Girls defeated Punjab and Delhi boys beat Haryana to win their respective bronze medals.

      A day earlier, Karnataka's Girls outlasted neighbours Kerala 76-66 to win their semi-final clash. Bhoomika P scored 21 for Karnataka in the win while Bhandavya (19) and Priyanka P (16) helped with the offensive firepower. Kerala's leading scorer was Mayuka with 17 points. In the other girls' semi-final, Chhattisgarh showed no mercy to silence Punjab in front of their home crowd en route to a 78-49 win. Vandana paced Chhattisgarh with 23 while Punjab's leading scorer was Gagandeep Kaur (17).

      MVP R. Hari Ram was on fire in the boys' semi-final for TN against Haryana, scoring 35 points to lead all scorers in a 99-85 win. Haryana kept pace with TN For three quarters and held a four point lead before the start of the fourth. But Hari Ram and TN took over from their, outscoring their opponents by 18 in the final period for the decisive win. P. Baladhaneshwar added 20 for TN while S. Kalidas had 19. Haryana were paced by Sonu Kumar (20) and Deepak (18) in the loss. In the other semi-final, Punjab outlasted Delhi and a magnificent individual effort by Sunil Kumar (32) to win 85-74. Punjab trailed by a close margin for most of the game, but once again, the fourth quarter proved to be the difference, as they turned a one-point disadvantage into an 11-point win. Dilpreet scored 21 for Punjab, while Delhi's Erash Hooda scored 17 in the loss.

      Photo Courtesy: Ekalavyas
      Final Scores
      • Girls: Chhattisgarh (Riya Verma 37) bt Karnataka (Bhandavya Mahesha 31, Priyanka P. 15) 67-63 (11-24, 18-12, 10-18, 28-9).
      • Boys: Tamil Nadu (R. Hari Ram 21, P. Baladhaneshwar 18, A. Daniel Richards 16) bt Punjab (Rahul Mehla 28, Jaipal Singh Mann 19) 91-86 (23-20, 23-23, 20-22, 25-21).
      Final Standings Girls
      • 1. Chhattisgarh
      • 2. Karnataka
      • 3. Kerala
      • 4. Punjab
      • 5. Tamil Nadu
      • 1. Tamil Nadu
      • 2. Punjab
      • 3. Delhi
      • 4. Haryana
      • 5. Kerala

      October 9, 2015

      FIBA urges Indian sports ministry to grant immediate recognition of BFI to Team Govindraj

      Last week, the Indian Men's basketball team made its fans proud, making it to the Quarter-Finals of the biggest tournament in Asia - the 2015 FIBA Asia Basketball Championship (ABC) - for the first time in 12 years, and taking an encouraging leap up to 8th place in the continent. However, despite the stellar performances by India's star players, something was amiss. India did well, but they could've done much better. The team that headed to Changsha for the 2015 FIBA ABC lacked severely in depth of talent. Several big names of Team India - players like Pratham Singh, Joginder Singh, Prasanna Venkatesh, Rikin Pethani, and Narender Grewal - didn't show up for the national team camp and final cut. India played well despite them, but their presence could've possibly pushed the national team a spot or two even higher.

      Of course, India being India, missing an entire five-man lineup of experienced, quality players is more than a random coincidence; many in the Indian hoops fraternity believe that the players were held back through pressure from government and political connections conspiring against the team from within itself. Indian basketball has been suffering from political infighting for the past six and a half months. The Basketball Federation of India (BFI) has divided into two separate executive committees boasting of two separate presidents. The committee led by secretary of the Karnataka State Basketball Association (KSBBA) K. Govindraj (Team Govindraj) conducted their Annual General Meeting in Bengaluru on March 27 under the rulings of the correct BFI constitution and have the backing of the International Basketball Federation (FIBA). Operating out of Bengaluru, they have been conducting domestic tournaments, national team camps, and organizing India's international activities (including FIBA Asia Championships for Men and Women) this year. The committee led by MP from the Mumbai North-Central Lok Sabha constituency Poonam Mahajan (Team Mahajan), formed in Pune on March 28, have the backing of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports (Sports Ministry). Last month, the IOA created an 'ad-hoc' committee to oversee the divide in Indian basketball with the hopes of holding fresh elections that involve Team Mahajan in BFI governance in an official manner.

      Now, frustrated by the ripple effect the rift in India is having internationally, FIBA has interjected again. In a letter addressed to the Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports (Government of India), Sarbananda Sonowal, FIBA Secretary General Patrick Baumann urged him to immediately grant official recognition of the BFI to Team Govindraj. Copies of the letter, dated 6th October 2015, were also been sent to other departments within FIBA as well as IOA and BFI.

      Excerpts of the letter from FIBA (Patrick Baumann) to the Sports Ministry (Sarbananda Sonowal) are below:

      FIBA issued an official decision dated 23 May 2015 recognizing a group of newly elected BFI officials who shall act as the sole representatives of the BFI towards FIBA and all other official sports authorities, and as the only officials in charge of controlling and developing the sport of basketball in India.
      In this decision, FIBA respectively requested the Indian Olympic Association and your honourably Ministry to join FIBA in supporting the officials duly and legally elected during the BFI General Meeting held in Bangaluru [sic] on 27 March 2015. More than 4 months later, we regret to note that the institutional situation of the BFI remains extremely fragile and subject to unacceptable pressures that hinder the proper development of basketball in your country.
      To our utmost concern, we have indeed received evidence and copies of correspondence issued by persons who were directly or indirectly part of the parallel General Meeting held in Pune the day after the holding of the valid BFI Meeting, threatening and dissuading players and State Unit Associations to take part in competitions organized by BFI and/or FIBA.
      While it is not unusual for officials involved within the sports political sphere to have disagreements, FIBA cannot accept that players who have absolutely nothing to do with these political matters and personal arguments be held hostages and prevented from representing their country in major international competitions. Not only are these threats disrespectful towards the hard work these players and their coaches went through in order to be at the required level but it is also a direct insult to the State of India whose national team has been missing out on key players due to this institutional turmoil.
      Just a few days ago, your national team reached the quarter finals of FIBA's flagship basketball event in Asia after a 12-year gap. However, key players were not allowed to take part in this championship due to various threats allegedly motivated by the absence of BFI recognition by your Ministry. FIBA is therefore of the firm opinion that this matter cannot continue any longer and we would respectfully request your Ministry to act without delay in the interest of the athletes, coaches, clubs, parents, sponsors, and fans who invest considerable time and resourced in our sport, by granting, without delay, the necessary recognition to the BFI presided by Mr Govindraj and recognized by FIBA.
      Also, and equally more importantly, any State Association or Public Service Companies which decides to join the BFI to pursue basketball activities shall not be prevented to do so and any player registered with such associaitons shall also be encouraged to participate in competitions organized by the BFI and endorsed by FIBA.

      FIBA's newest letter has been chiefly in response to the IOA's refusal to recognize Team Govindraj's BFI and support Team Mahajan, who has considerable clout in the Indian government because of Poonam Mahajan and Secretary-General Roopam Sharma's BJP links. The IOA's creation of an ad-hoc committee claimed (falsely, it has been alleged by Team Govindraj) that they were requested by FIBA to solve the BFI dispute. The IOA's ad-hoc committee also intended to hold fresh elections for the Executive Board of the BFI within a period of two months of giving notice to all affiliated members (state federations/associations, etc). Team Govindraj claim that the IOA order is "illegal" since they do not have the provision to make an ad-hoc committee for any National Sports Federation in India that is recognized by an international federation.

      While Team Mahajan attempts to coerce the IOA to create obstacles for Team Govindraj, Team Govindraj continues to hold basketball activities for India domestically and abroad, including the Junior National Basketball Championship that conclude in Ludhiana on Friday, October 9. They will be holding selection trials for India's U16 boys team on October 10-12 in Bengaluru for the U16 FIBA Asia Basketball Championship in Indonesia at the end of this month. India were drawn yesterday in Group D of the U16 FIBA ABC, along with China, Korea, and Iraq.

      Unfortunately, it seems that India's biggest rival in basketball success isn't China, or Korea, or Iraq, or the Philippines, Iran, or Japan. It's India itself.

      To paraphrase FIBA and Baumann: dear India, stop messing with the hard work and passions of Indian basketball players. It is their dream to wear the Indian jersey, to make India proud, and eventually, help India achieve greater things. Their efforts should be supported, not halted. We can't let politics kill Indian basketball.