It's been four years since the National Basketball Association (NBA) made its foray into India, but little has changed in a sport that's still plagued by lack of infrastructure and mediocre performances.
Experts attribute it to the NBA's negligible work at the grassroot level. "Unless you
concentrate at the grassroots, the standard of the game will never improve," a national-level coach told Hindustan Times on the sidelines of the Basketball Nationals on Thursday.
"Only a miniscule section appears to have benefited from NBA. There is no uniform system of coaching in the country, either. So, what has the NBA done? All they want is publicity," said another senior coach.
"In the last four years, NBA officials have just conducted three to four-day seminars or clinics in metros like Mumbai and Delhi and gone back. The rest of the year there is nothing," he added.
The Basketball Federation of India (BFI) felt the NBA had provided technical support to the federation. "It supported the national team with two experts during the Asian Games," said BFI secretary-general, Harish Sharma. He added the BFI had requested the number of experts be doubled in the New Year.
The presence of two NBA coaches, however, didn't change the fate of the India cagers in Guangzhou. "The only difference they (coaches) made was that we could avenge our defeat against Afghanistan," joked a player.
Last year, the NBA, in collaboration with a corporate house, did initiate a school and college league, but it was confined to just three cities - Bangalore, Mumbai and Ludhiana. Recently, Delhi has also been included.
In Ludhiana, the event got going only after the Punjab government stepped in to fund the travel allowances of the outstation school teams.
As the year rolls over, the future is hazy. A senior coach based in Ludhiana, said, "On what lines will the league be run in 2011? We are yet to receive any communication."
Despite the uncertainty, the BFI appears confident. "The players will get more opportunities next year," said Sharma.