Sony Six hopes for improved NBA viewership with Bhullar’s debut

MUMBAI: Toronto born Indian Gursimran Bhullar (SIM) is all set to make his National Basketball League (NBA) debut with Sacramento Kings. He will be the first player of Indian origin to feature in NBA.

Multi Screen Media’s (MSM) sports channel Sony Six is the official broadcaster of NBA in India and the Indian’s debut in NBA will boost viewership for Sony too. Talking about Bhullar’s debut, Sony Six business head Prasana Krishnan said, “Sim is now a part of Sacramento Kings and would hopefully play on Monday as speculated. It would be a historic event and would hopefully be a big boost for Basketball and NBA in India.”

In various schools and colleges across India we see kids playing cricket on basketball court with dreams to become Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly or Mahendra Singh Dhoni. While, India has a many idols to follow when it comes to cricket, there is serious crisis when it comes to other sports and especially basketball. Micheal Jordan, Kobe Bryant were inspiration for hardcore basketball fans but lack of local connect always played the spoil sport. Bhullar’s NBA debut will certainly lay foundation in bridging the local connect gap.

NBA India in association with Sony Six has already started many initiatives to popularise the sport at the grassroots level. A few among them being, school and college basketball leagues, roping in Bollywood actor Abhishek Bachchan as the brand ambassador of the sport and his participation in the NBA-All star game. The activities have so far been able to rejuvenate the sport in India.

When asked about the historical debut of Bhullar and its impact on Indian NBA growth, NBA India managing director Yannik Colaco told, “I think Sim’s NBA debut is one of the few points that may ignite the growth of the sport in India. We have been making a lot of efforts to popularise the sport at a grassroots level by providing advanced facilities to the aspirants. NBA now is an established venture amongst Indian sports and is growing thick and fast. Sim’s debut is a great moment for Indian history and we should have more Indians playing at the top level.”

After going undrafted in the 2014 NBA draft, Bhullar joined the Sacramento Kings for the 2014 NBA Summer League. On 14 August 2014, he signed with the Kings, becoming the first player of Indian descent to sign with an NBA team. However, he was later waived by the Kings on 19 October 2014. On 2 November 2014, he was acquired by the Reno Bighorns as an affiliate player.  Bhullar made his D-League debut on 6 December with 4 points, 8 rebounds and 6 blocks in Reno's 141–140 loss to the Los Angeles D-Fenders. On 22 February 2015, he recorded his first career triple-double with 26 points, 17 rebounds and 11 blocked shots against the D-Fenders.  On 2 April 2015, Bhullar signed a 10-day contract with the Sacramento Kings.

"It's a big moment in the history of the NBA and the history of my country in India. I know my family's going to be proud of me and everybody's going to be proud of me and cheer me on the court," Bhullar had earlier told the Associated Press.

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