Adam Silver, commissioner of the National Basketball Association (NBA), has revealed that there is “serious consideration” in regards to launching a professional league in India.
The news was revealed ahead of the NBA’s first ever pre-season games in India which featured two matches between the Sacramento Kings and the Indiana Pacers.
Speaking alongside Kings owner Vivek Ranadivé, Silver stated: “One of the things we’ve been discussing recently – and I know this is something else my friend Vivek is pushing me on – is the ability to launch a league here in India.
“As I’ve said, we have wonderful partners in the Reliance Foundation, with Sony Ten, our broadcaster, and some of our other top-notch corporate relationships here. That is something in these days while we’re here that we’re taking meetings on and openly having discussions.”
With this being said, the pre-season matches between the Kings and the Pacers required the NBA to provide a court and a scoreboard to ensure the venue was up to standard which led Silver to explain how a potential launch of an Indian league would require proper infrastructure and facilities suited to basketball.
When discussing the facility used for the pre-season matches, the NSCI Dome in Mumbai, Silver added:“This is a fantastic facility we’re in today, but it required us bringing in a court, a scoreboard, seats, locker rooms. And it’s relatively small by NBA standards.
“I have had some interesting discussions with developers over the last two days here. I think it’s inevitable that there will be state-of-the-art arenas in major cities in India, in part because these are multi-use facilities and live entertainment is increasingly important here as well. Of course, a great arena can have concerts and other shows. But we do need to see those arenas over time in order to play more games.”
Silver, who did not reveal any specifics surrounding the possible formation of the league, also mentioned that he hopes to have the competition up and running within the next five years, with Ranadivé also reportedly telling ESPN that the league would feature 12 teams.
The pre-season matches in Mumbai saw the Pacers and the Kings take on each other twice in two back-to-back matches with the Pacers coming out on top during both affairs.
Inisght: The comments come months before the launch of the 12-team Basketball Africa League (BAL) – a collaboration between FIBA, the sport’s governing body, and the NBA.
The BAL competition is set to get underway on 15 October when qualifying matches will take place until 3 November, with the qualified teams then taking part in the inaugural season of the contest which begins in March 2020.
The contest marks the first time the NBA has been involved in the operation of a league outside of North America.