It's time to finally write that new chapter in basketball history: after much anticipation over the years - including leaked rumours just a few months ago - the NBA has made it official: for the first time in history, India will host two NBA preseason games between the Indiana Pacers and Sacramento Kings next year. This will also be the first time any North American league has staged games in India.
The two matchups of NBA India Games 2019 will be held on October 4-5 at the NSCI Dome in Mumbai. The announcement was made on Thursday by NBA Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum and NBA India Managing Director Yannick Colaco in Mumbai.
In addition to the games, the league and its partners will conduct interactive fan activities, Jr. NBA youth basketball programming and NBA Cares community outreach events that will bring the NBA experience to fans in Mumbai. The NBA India Games 2019 will be promoted by BookMyShow and AEG and supported by a roster of marketing and merchandising partners. The games will air live in India, and will reach fans in more than 200 countries and territories on television, digital and social media.
"We are proud to be the first global sports league to bring games of this scale to India," said Colaco. "The NBA and basketball have never been more popular in India, and fans will get to enjoy world-class showcases for our sport between two exciting teams in the Sacramento Kings and the Indiana Pacers."
The Kings are the first (and only) NBA team with an Indian-born owner, Vivek Ranadive. Ranadive will fulfil his long-running dream of bringing the Kings to India for an exhibition game, and particularly to his hometown of Mumbai. Under Ranadive, the Kings helped Canadian Sim Bhullar become the first player of Indian-origin to play in the NBA. The Kings have the longest current playoff drought in the NBA (12 years) but feature an exciting young team who are finally turning things around this season. Led by guard De'Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, Willie Cauley-Stein, and featuring this year's No. 2 draft pick Marvin Bagley, they have become one of the top scoring teams in the league and currently hold a 16-15 record.
The Pacers have a much sunnier present-day outlook, as they stand 20-12 and look healthy for a mid-tier playoff spot in the East. They are led by All Star Victor Oladipo, rising Lithuanian forward Domantas Sabonis, Bojan Bogdanovich, and Myles Turner. They have one of the league's best defensive units, and in Oladipo, likely the biggest star at this showcase.
"We are thrilled to be one of the first two teams to play the first-ever game in India and proud to be part of the expanding NBA worldwide footprint of our game of basketball," said Herbert Simon, Pacers' owner.
Tickets to the games will go on sale at a later date. Fans can visit nbaevents.com/indiagames to register interest for information and tickets.
Since 2006, more than 35 current and former NBA and WNBA players have visited India on behalf of the NBA. The NBA office in Mumbai opened in 2011. The NBA Academy India, an elite basketball training center in Delhi National Capital Region (NCR) for the top male and female prospects from throughout India and the first of its kind in the country, officially opened in May 2017.