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How Satnam Singh Made The NBA Sit Up And Take Notice

How Satnam Singh

It is not every day that Indian sports see one of their own being picked for an international franchise. It is not every day that one of the most popular leagues in the world buzzes with an Indian name. That is why June 26 will be etched in the memory of millions of Indians. Satnam Singh Bhamara became the first Indian to be drafted by an National Basketball Association (NBA) franchise, when the Dallas Mavericks picked him during the 2015 NBA Draft. As India waited with bated breath in the early hours of Friday, one name turned to the other and Bhamara was left waiting. He was finally picked as the 52nd player in the draft.

It is indeed an incredible achievement for India and Indian basketball. As rival factions fight to stake claim as the ruling body for the sport in the country, this young 19-year-old from a small village in Punjab has taken the country to unparalleled heights.

At 7.2 feet he was one of the tallest in the draft. His height surely catapulted him to find a spot in the NBA. It was in fact Bhamara's height that made IMG pick him up to train at their facility in Florida. Since, 2010 he has been training rigorously and dreaming of this day.

When asked after the draft if he was confident, he said he hoped he would be picked but had spent a sleepless night in anticipation.

After Sim Bhullar made headlines last season, Bhamara's achievement is an even bigger one. He has been picked in the pre-season draft which is historic. Add to the fact that he is an Indian, who was born and brought up in the country and comes from humble beginnings. Bhullar, on the other hand is a Canadian with Indian roots and has had the best facilities to train in North America.

During my visit to the US to cover the NBA finals, the name of Bhamara could be heard. The clubs were intrigued by him owing to his height and many had called him for trails. His success at the draft puts India firmly on the NBA map.

The NBA has for long been trying to tap into the Indian market. If Bhullar made the first dent in that direction, Bhamara will surely become a vital cog in the wheel that takes the sport to greater heights.

As India celebrates and Bhamara’s appeal rises, his village in Punjab displays a festive mood too. Called Ballo Ke, it has a population of hardly over 2,000 and it is doubtful that anyone can pick it on the map of India. But after today, it will be a celebrated place.

Let’s hope the Dallas Mavericks can turn out to be a platform for Bhamara from where he becomes a celebrated name in world basketball.

Author: Radhika Tongar  

Author: June 26, 2015

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