NBA has intensified its global expansion and as a result, in India, has progressed from building a fanbase to major grassroots investment. NBA star and member of the current champion team Golden State Warriors Kevin Durant set a new Guiness World Record achievement for the world’s largest basketball lesson (multiple venues) in India today.
The Drum spoke with Kevin Durant and Satnam Singh, the first India native picked in the NBA draft ( for Dallas Mavericks) to talk about the growing influence of the Indian market.
Why do you think more brands/corporate should get associated with basketball in India?
India is a great market to be in for sports and a great place to be in. I believe brands and sponsor should come forward just because there are so many basketball players here, so many athletes here.They need to promote it and media needs to promote it and all this will go a long way. There are so many passionate NBA fans in India and they certainly deserve more attention. I am sure more brands support will pour into India. We need to be just patient.
Do you think basketball can break into the Indian culture and advertised the same way as cricket in India?
I have never played cricket but I know how deep cricket is in India's sporting culture. I understand it will take basketball time to take over. NBA Academy is a great start and hopefully more and more kids can start taking it up professionally. I am sure in the next 10 years or so, India will have more players playing in the NBA.
Kobe Bryant was quite influential in China. How do you want to influence India with your KD Brand?
I just want to be myself and hopefully, people will see how passionate I am for the fans and the game. I might come again to promote the game and would like people to be comfortable with me. Let's see what happens in future.
The Drum also spoke with Satnam Singh.
Why do you think brands/corporates should sponsor more players from India?
If the brands and corporate sector comes forward to sponsor basketball players in India, it will be great for the players, the game and the country. There will be many more basketball players from India playing at the NBA. Basketball training involves a lot of expenditure and sponsorship can help take care of that and at the same time gain visibility. I myself don't have any sponsors and if they even help me make a name of myself and promote me here, I am sure people will relate to me and be inspired to take up basketball.
How much has social media changed the way they players influence their fans?
Social media has increased the influence ten folds and not just influence, it has changed the entire dynamics of the game. Now if you aren't active on social media, there are less chances of getting recognised as everyone is even watching games online.
Kevin Durant is in India to support the continued growth of basketball in the country. While in Delhi, he coached the country’s top prospects at the NBA Academy India and built two new basketball courts to the Ramjas School as part of the Kevin Durant Charity Foundation’s Build it and they will ball courts renovation initiative. Kevin Durant’s road to the NBA Finals was recently chronicled in Nike film by director Brandon Loper.