October 17, 2014

A quick chat with Sim Bhullar: Changing the perception of Indian athletes

When the Sacramento Kings signed undrafted 7-foot-5 Canadian giant Sim Bhullar to their roster, they didn't just add extra depth in the Center position behind DeMarcus Cousins. They also made Bhullar into the first player of Indian-origin to make it to an NBA roster. Bhullar has since been in training camp with the Kings, and fans have been hoping that his presence helps the popularity of basketball among Indians take giant strides forward.

Last week, Bhullar was with the rest of the Kings in China for the NBA's annual 'China Games'. The Kings played the Brooklyn Nets in Shanghai and Beijing in two preseason exhibition games. I was able to attend the practices and the games in Beijing and shared some quotes, photographs, and my thoughts about the events earlier.

Before the Sacramento Kings took the floor to practice at the MasterCard Center in Beijing, I got an opportunity to have a quick chat with Bhullar about his goals for the season and his thoughts on becoming the first Indian-origin player in the NBA.

Hoopistani: How does it feel to be here in Beijing with the Kings for the China Games?

Bhullar: It's fun to be here man. It's a beautiful city and I'm enjoying the culture.

Hoopistani: Is this your first time in China?

Bhullar: Yes.

Hoopistani: You mentioned that you have been to India often, though, right?

Bhullar: Yes, I've been to India about four times now. Most recent was about five years ago.

Hoopistani: How does it feel to be on the roster and practicing with the Kings - how is that experience going so far?

Bhullar: It's been good for me so far. I'm enjoying it. I'm blessed to be here. I'm excited for the what's to come for the next couple of weeks and months.

Hoopistani: What's your goal for the season?

Bhullar: Definitely to get better. To help the team in any way I can, and just improve overall.

Hoopistani: Now, how have the team's veterans - especially the big guys - helped you find your NBA feet so far?

Bhullar: They've been helping me out a lot. They're mentors. They've been teaching me a lot of stuff on the court and off the court. They're excited for me to be here.

Hoopistani: You mentioned off-the-court: is there a next leap of professionalism that you have to go through as an NBA player as compared to how it was in college?

Bhullar: Yes, there Definitely is. Because off the court all eyes are on you when people know you're in the NBA. You're always in the spotlight no matter what you do. That's what they tell me: always take care of yourself and think of it as everybody is watching you at all times.

Hoopistani: You've become the first player of Indian descent to be on an NBA roster. Do you feel there is a sense of pressure or responsibility with that? What has been your approach?

Bhullar: I don't really feel the pressure. It's a great thing that I'm the first, but hopefully there are a lot more players to come. It's just basketball at the end of the day for me. So whatever happens, happens.

Hoopistani: Do you feel that your presence as the first of Indian-descent can break the racial barrier in the NBA and they can start looking at players from other backgrounds as well?

Bhullar: Ya, hopefully people can see us as more than just 'workers' and stuff or people who only hold everyday jobs. Hopefully they can see us as professional athletes in football, baseball or something like that. Who knows, maybe it can change the [perception] of the way people think.

Click here for a more in-depth interview I did with Bhullar for NBA.com/India a few months ago.

No comments:

Post a Comment