Sim Bhullar first Indian descent player picked by NBA

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, Washington
  • Updated: Aug 16, 2014 08:04 IST

Sim Bhullar on Friday became the first player of Indian descent picked by an NBA team when he was signed by Sacramento Kings, which is owned by an Indian-American.

"I've long believed that India is the next great frontier for the NBA, and adding a talented player like Sim only underscores the exponential growth basketball has experienced in that nation," said Kings owner Vivek Ranadive.

"While Sim is the first player of Indian descent to sign with an NBA franchise, he represents one of many that will emerge from that region as the game continues to garner more attention and generate ever-increasing passion among a new generation of Indian fans," Ranadive added.

Bhullar, who is 7 feet and 5 inches, was born in Toronto, Canada and played two seasons for New Mexico State. He was a two-time Western Athletic Conference Tournament most valuable player.

Bhullar's younger brother Tanveer is just a shade shorter at 7 feet three inches, and also plays basketball.

Their parents Avatar and Varinder came to Canada from Punjab. Avatar runs a gas station in Toronto.

Ranadive, the founder and CEO of Tibco Software, bought Kings in 2013 beating rival bids from then Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, who recently bought LA Clippers.

Since Ranadive took charge of the Kings, the franchise has worked on making basketball the fastest growing sport in India, said the team in a statement.

The franchise televised 20 NBA games live in India the past season, and launched a Hindi website to "connect with a rapidly growing Hindi-speaking fan base from around the world".

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