New York, June 26: Satnam Singh Bhamara scripted history by becoming the first Indian basketball player to be drafted in the National Basketball Association (NBA) after being picked by Dallas Mavericks.
The 19-year-old, who hails from a remote village called ‘Ballo Ke’ near Ludhiana in Punjab and stands 7 feet 2 inches tall, was the 52nd pick in the NBA Draft.
Punjab boy Satnam Singh said that his entry will open doors for more Indians to play basketball at the highest level in America, adding “The feeling is ofcourse unreal but it has happened and I feel that my entry will certainly open the doors for many aspiring basketballers in India to dream big.”
Satnam further said: “Atleast there is now an somebody whom the youngsters back home can identify with, who is playing in the NBA. Now a road has opened up for them from which they can come up.”
He added: “The game will certainly grow in India in the coming years. You see the popularity of cricket now but in the future basketball will also be popular back home.”
Satnam, who was selected amongst the 60 young men who will play basketball in the NBA next season, has been training in Florida for the last five years along with youths of 39 countries on an initiative of US-based IMG Reliance Academy.
Satnam has represented the India national basketball team at the 2011 FIBA Asia Championship and the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship.
In April 2015, Satnam had declared for the 2015 NBA draft after not receiving any academic scholarships to play in the NCAA.
Satnam also marks the first time since the 2005 NBA draft that a player would declare to enter the draft without playing in college, overseas professionally, or in the NBA Development League as well.
Satnam will follow the footsteps of Canadian-born Gursimran “Sim” Bhullar, who was the first player of Indian origin to play in the NBA when he turned out for the Kings in three games in April.
(With PTI Inputs)