August 15, 2015

Milestones in Indian Basketball (2015 Update!)

It's India's 69th Independence Day today, it's the day where we celebrate the anniversary of when that the fruits of the labours of our founding fathers - Gandhi, Nehru, Bose, Bhagat Singh, Azad, and so many more - came to realization. It's the day that India began its tryst with destiny.

Since 'Hoopistani' is the self-proclaimed holy-scripture of Indian Basketball, it is a must that this blog should celebrate Indian Independence Day in a special manner, too. Earlier this week, the Hoopdarshan podcast - hosted by myself and Kaushik Lakshman - released a special Independence Day episode, where we gave listeners a lesson in Indian basketball history, capturing its greatest moments and highest achievers. We also spoke to India's former Women's NT captain Prashanti Singh. The podcast was a retelling of an article I wrote on this blog over five years ago, listing the greatest milestones and individual award winners in Indian basketball.

Since then, history has come closer to fans of Indian hoops, with steady development in the sport racking up new milestones at an accelerating level. With the most current state of the game in mind, here is the 2015 update. Of course, with 85 years of hoops history in the country, not every major moment can be captured. These are the highest of the highlights; feel free to suggest any other major milestones that should be considered in the comments section below.

Arjuna Award winners
  • 1961: Sarabjit Singh
  • 1967: Khushi Ram
  • 1968: Gurdial Singh
  • 1969: Hav. Hari Dutt
  • 1970: Gulam Abbas Moontasir
  • 1971: Man Mohan Singh
  • 1973: SK Kataria
  • 1974: AK Punj
  • 1975: Hanuman Singh
  • 1977-78: T. Vijayaragavan
  • 1979-80: Om Prakash
  • 1982: Ajmer Singh
  • 1991: Radhey Shyam
  • 1991: Suman Sharma
  • 1999: Sajjan Singh Cheema
  • 2001: Parminder Singh
  • 2003: Satya (Sports)
  • 2014: Geethu Anna Jose
Dhyan Chand Award winners
  • 2002: Aparna Ghosh
  • 2003: Ram Kumar

Indian basketball has come a long way from the time the first ball was bounced somewhere in the middle of Punjab to the same state producing India's first NBA draftee, 85 years later. Through the years, we have seen 17 players and two coaches receive Arjuna and Dhyan Chand honours respectively, played basketball in the Summer Olympics, hosted several major international basketball competitions, and shocked heavyweights China in a legendary victory. Despite its growth, the sport still feels like it is in its infancy in India; considering India's massive population and growing economic status of the middle class, we have sold much short of our true potential.

Hopefully, the future will be much brighter than the past. The Indian basketball family will be looking forward to a major professional basketball league, more young players following Satnam's footsteps into the NBA, and further international success by our national teams. For the present, however, let's celebrate our favourite sport in our favourite country and go out to shoot some hoops!

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