The National Basketball Association (NBA) has today (Thursday) announced that it will become the first North American sports league to stage games in India, with Mumbai set to host two preseason encounters between the Indiana Pacers and Sacramento Kings.

The NBA India Games 2019 will take place October 4-5, 2019 at the NSCI Dome (pictured) in Mumbai. Since 2006, more than 35 current and former NBA and women’s WNBA players have visited India on behalf of the NBA. The NBA office in Mumbai opened in 2011 and the league has long been linked with staging games in the country.

The NBA Academy India, an elite basketball training centre in Delhi National Capital Region (NCR) for the top male and female prospects from throughout India and the first of its kind in the country, officially opened in May 2017. The Kings also have strong ties to the country through Indian-born majority owner and Mumbai-native Vivek Ranadivé.

He said: “As an Indian-American, it is an honour to help bring this historic moment to the country where I was raised. The sport is experiencing tremendous growth in India and we are excited about continuing to expand the NBA’s reach to fans across the globe. The world wants to watch basketball and India is a fast-growing new frontier.”

NBA India managing director Yannick Colaco added: “We are proud to be the first global sports league to bring games of this scale to India.  The NBA and basketball have never been more popular in India, and fans will get to enjoy world-class showcases for our sport between two exciting teams in the Sacramento Kings and the Indiana Pacers.”

The NBA India Games 2019 will be promoted by ticket company BookMyShow and AEG. Tickets to the games, which will be broadcast live throughout India, will go on sale at a later date. In addition to the games, the league and its partners will conduct interactive fan activities, Jr. NBA youth basketball programming and NBA Cares community outreach events that will aim bring the NBA experience to fans in Mumbai.

BookMyShow CEO and founder, Ashish Hemrajani, said: “Basketball continues to gain in popularity in India, and institutions including school and colleges are investing in improving the sport’s infrastructure. This association not only marks an addition of a phenomenal world-class experience to BookMyShow’s array of offerings but also strengthens our leadership position as we continue to tread on the path of bringing the best out-of-home experiences for our users.”

Image: NSCI