By the time his three-year tenure ended as Head Coach of India's Men's Basketball National Team in September 2015, Scott Flemming left the country with an unmatched legacy. From 2012-2015, the American coach carried the national team to unforeseen heights with confidence-boosting victories and helped strengthen the domestic grassroots basketball structure.
"Going back to India is close to my heart, but working for the NBA takes it to another level,” Flemming said. “It would have taken a job like this to pull me away from NNU. I was enjoying what I was doing."
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With NBA India, Flemming will oversee a program which has grown from a grass roots organization, to a program which is hosting major events. Flemming will be involved in hosting events like the Global Games, and Basketball without Borders, which will bring NBA stars to India to teach at camps. Flemming said there is also talk of holding an NBA preseason game in India.
But one of the biggest goals for the program, Flemming said, is identifying and producing the player who the program hopes will become India’s first NBA player.
Satnam Singh Bhamara, who played for Flemming on the Indian National Team, became the first Indian drafted when the Dallas Mavericks took him in the second round of the 2015 NBA draft, but he has yet to play at the NBA level.
“That was one big step to get a player drafted,” Flemming said. “They saw what Yao Ming did for China. That’s one of the goals, so they’re trying to evaluate and identify talent.”
Flemming first came to India when he was hired as the national Men's NT coach by the Basketball Federation of India (BFI) in September 2012 after 30 years of coaching experience in the USA, including serving as an assistant coach with the NBDL squad Texas Legends. Flemming helped the national team hold their heads up higher with respectable performances at the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship, a gold medal at the Lusofonia Games, and important experience at the Asian Game. He was responsible for leading India to the 'Wonder of Wuhan', our biggest ever international victory over hosts China (for the first time) in the 2014 FIBA Asia Cup in Wuhan, China. In a country with fleeting basketball success where foreign coaches had been hired and dropped like flies, Flemming had lasted the test of time and the challenges of a broken system to become arguably India's greatest international coach ever.
Beyond his international influence, Flemming also served as an adviser to coaches domestically, helping to further cultivate and grow basketball at the grassroots level in India. He took part in various Coaches Coaching programmes around the country, launched the Indian Basketball Coaches Network (IBCN), and made basketball player development videos to reach out to the legions of hoop hopefuls in India. He and his wife Chawn forged valuable relationships with coaches and players in India and he went out of his way to have honest and open communication through interviews, his blog, and social media with the Indian fans and media. Memorably, Flemming fought for the religious rights of India's Sikh players Amjyot Singh and Amritpal Singh when FIBA forced them to play without their turbans at the FIBA Asia Cup.
Flemming has the coaching expertise, India experience, and an attitude to deal with the challenges that India might present, and he is the ideal hire to lead NBA India's basketball operations. The league is obviously betting big on India as a market for basketball and a vast land from where they hope to unearth an NBA talent. With the launch of the NBA Academy India in Greater Noida earlier this year, they have already selected the first batch of youngsters to hone and develop into future potential stars. With Flemming on the team, hopefully they will take the next major step for the game's development in the country.