We have plans to return to India for pre-season games, NBA commissioner says

National Basketball Association (NBA) Commissioner Adam Silver said on Thursday that the US basketball league, one of the largest sports brands in the world, has plans to return to India. However, he did not name a date.

NBA held two international pre-season games at the NSCI Dome in Mumbai in October 2019, featuring Indiana Pacers and Sacramento Kings. It was the first and only time NBA held its international matches in India.

“We do have plans to return to India. That (Covid-19) was one of the setbacks that happened with the pandemic, as you recall. It was just before the pandemic that hit the whole world,” said Silver, who has been NBA commissioner since February 2014.

“When we played those two games in Mumbai, it was an incredible experience with the arrival of the Sacramento Kings and the Indiana Pacers. Again, both teams really embraced the experience. Of course we have Vivek Ranadive, one of the team owners, born in Mumbai. It (Mumbai games) was a really great experience, but then everything was put on hold.”

Ranadive is an Indian-American businessman who co-owns Sacramento Kings and was instrumental in bringing NBA to India three years ago.

“With 30 teams, we can of course appeal to fans on many different continents, many different cities for the season. Mark Tatum is here, our Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer. We have had talks to return to India as soon as possible,” said Silver, who succeeded David Stern as NBA’s fifth commissioner.

“And again, these games are special, but it’s just the moment and the time. What we are focusing on is developing the game across India, working with federation, FIBA ​​(international basketball federation), more clinics, more academies, better distribution of our games – all to try young boys and girls to excite those who want to play this Great game.”

The 2022-23 NBA season begins on October 18. The league currently hosts two pre-season international matches in Abu Dhabi, with the Atlanta Hawks taking on the Milwaukee Bucks at the Etihad Arena here. It is one of four locations outside the United States to host international pre-season games this season.

Tokyo saw reigning champions Golden State Warriors face Washington Wizards on September 30, while Toronto Raptors face Utah Jazz on October 2 in Edmonton. Montreal will be the fourth and final venue to host the international games, with the Toronto Raptors taking on the Boston Celtics on October 14.

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