Bhullar wants to emulate Yao Ming in India

Thu May 7, 2015 3:18am EDT
 
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By Amlan Chakraborty

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Sim Bhullar knows it is going to be a tall order but the first NBA player of Indian descent believes that, like Yao Ming in China, he can trigger basketball frenzy in the country his parents left before he was born.

Former Houston Rockets center Yao, an eight-time All-Star, triggered NBA-mania in China after being selected first overall in the 2002 draft and went on to become his country's wealthiest and most recognizable athlete.

That is unlikely to happen to Toronto-born Bhullar, who at 7ft 5in (2.26 meters) is an inch shorter than Yao.

Bhullar, who was not drafted, signed just a 10-day contract with Sacramento Kings last month and played only three games before embarking on a tour of India, where basketball is much less popular than it was in China pre-Yao.

Still, as he conducts basketball clinics in cities across the country, Bhullar is drawing inspiration from the former Houston Rocket in his bid to change a sporting landscape where all other sports play very much second fiddle to cricket.

"Yao did a great a job, being an ambassador and just being the guy for the youth in China," he told Reuters in an interview.

"I'm trying to get on the path that he did. Being here, it's been good so far. I'm just trying to inspire the youth and show them the dream is possible.

"They can dream about something bigger than just being in India and traveling the world playing basketball. That's pretty much my goal.   Continued...

 
Apr 8, 2015; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Sacramento Kings center Sim Bhullar (32) dribbles the ball as Utah Jazz forward Jack Cooley (45) defends during the fourth quarter at EnergySolutions Arena. Utah Jazz on the game 103-91. Mandatory Credit: Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports