NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Indiana Pacers and Sacramento Kings will play two preseason games in Mumbai next year, the first National Basketball Association games to take place in India, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said on Thursday.
Cricket-mad India has been on the radar of the NBA. The association runs an academy near New Delhi, has arranged the visits of 35 current and former NBA and WNBA players since 2006 and opened an office in Mumbai in 2011.
“Our inaugural NBA India Games will help (unleash) the enormous basketball potential in a country with a thriving sports culture and a growing, young and engaged population,” Silver said in a statement.
“We thank the Kings and Pacers organizations for participating in this historic event.”
Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum and India Managing Director Yannick Colaco said that NBA would also conduct outreach programs during the matches on Oct. 4 and 5.
Fittingly, one of the teams playing the games will be the Kings, which has the NBA’s first Indian-born majority owner and Mumbai-native Vivek Ranadive as its chairman.
“As an Indian-American, it is an honor to help bring this historic moment to the country where I was raised,” Ranadive said in a statement.
“The sport is experiencing tremendous growth in India and we are excited about continuing to expand the NBA’s reach to fans across the globe.
“The world wants to watch basketball and India is a fast-growing new frontier.”
More than 350 live NBA games are shown in India each season, including 78 with Hindi commentary.
Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; editing by Kirsten Donovan