US President Donald Trump warned Prime Minister Narendra Modi light-heartedly that he may be present for the National Basketball Association (NBA) pre-season games that are going to be held in Mumbai. Trump issued the 'warning' while addressing a 50,000-strong crowd at the 'Howdy Modi' event in Houston.
The president stated that USA is very much committed to ensuring that Indians get the world's best products while referring to the NBA basketball matches, and asked if the Indian prime minister was giving him an invitation for the event.
He went on to say that he might turn up at the event to witness the historic moment for basketball in India. "We are committed to ensuring Indians have access to the world's best products. Soon, Indians will have access to NBA basketball. People will gather in Mumbai to watch the first NBA game in India. Am I invited, Prime Minister?" President Trump said.
"Don't be surprised, I am warning you, I may come," he added.
The first time an American sports league comes to India
The pre-season matches will be first-ever games of the NBA to be organised in India. In fact, it will be the first time that a North American sports league game will be hosted by the country.
The two pre-season games will feature Indiana Pacers and Sacramento Kings and are slated to be played on October 4 and 5 at the Dome, NSCI, SVP Stadium in Mumbai.
The owner of the King's is an Indian and also a Mumbai-born businessman named Vivek Ranadive. He is also the first Indian-born team owner of the NBA.
Their team will possibly feature the likes of Marvin Bagley III, De'Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield whereas the Pacers will probably have Victor Oladipo, Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis in the squad.
The NBA announced the games that are going to be held in India in December 2018. NBA commissioner Adam Silver had said that they are trying to tap the enormous market of India as the country is thriving with a sporting culture along with having a growing youth population who are interested in different sports.
According to him, the pre-season games will help them to create an awareness of basketball in India which will increase the popularity of the league and can further help in the making of new players in future.
"Our inaugural NBA India Games will help further untap the enormous basketball potential in a country with a thriving sports culture and a growing, young and engaged population. We thank the Kings and Pacers organizations for participating in this historic event," NBA Commissioner Adam Silver had said.
Since 2006, more than 35 NBA stars have visited India and their office was opened in Mumbai in the year 2011. But there has been no success in creating a massive awareness of the sport among Indians though a certain population has become aware of the league.
This initiative of hosting a match can totally change the scenario of basketball as a sport in the country.