Always keen to establish themselves on the global stage, Indian sportsmen and sportswomen are enjoying a growing influence. While traditional sports like cricket remain hugely popular throughout the sub-continent, that is gradually changing due to soccer and basketball generate increased fandom, with millions of people focusing attention beyond their own borders.
Since becoming a popular destination of choice providing new life opportunities, the number of Indian immigrants in the United States has continued to rise, laying down firm roots that now span quite a few generations amongst those who settled. According to the most recent US Migration Policy statistics, the Indian diaspora in the country is comprised of approximately 4.8 million individuals, either born in India or claiming to have Indian ancestry.
Inevitably, this gives rise to a growing influence amongst the Indian diaspora in all walks of life, and all imaginable professions available to those who seek employment within the United States. This growing influence is also being noted in the NBA, the premier domestic basketball competition in the world, as people with Indian roots target success in the sport.
Satnam Singh Bhamara
Back in 2015, basketball fans in India had huge expectations for Satnam Singh, who became the first ever Indian-born player drafted by an NBA team. Chosen as the 52nd overall pick by the Dallas Mavericks, the towering 7ft 2in center held the hopes of a generation back home in his hands.
— NBA (@NBA) June 26, 2015
Unfortunately, professional basketball proved a difficult nut for Satnam Singh to crack. Aside from participating in the NBA Summer League with the Mavericks, he would ultimately spend two seasons playing for their D-League affiliate team, the Texas Legends. This was followed by a season with St. John’s Edge in the Canadian NBL.
After first taking an interest in professional wrestling in 2017, having worked out at the WWE Performance Center, this would eventually become the focus of his sporting attention. Satnam Singh appears to have now turned his back on pro basketball for good, signed up to All Elite Wrestling (AEW) since 2021.
Recently featured in an article by The Athletic, there could be a spectacular NBA future ahead for Amaan Sandhu. He has become the first Indian-born NCAA Division I basketball player, now participating in the pinnacle of the collegiate game across the United States, renowned as the most successful pathway to forging professional careers in the NBA.
Amaan Sandhu is the first Indian-born athlete to earn a Division I men’s college basketball scholarship.
With it, he carries the hopes of millions, @DanaONeilWriter writes.https://t.co/Yr6vwV4uwT pic.twitter.com/KqVK4lrq8q
— The Athletic (@TheAthletic) August 15, 2022
Despite the fact that basketball remains largely a niche sport back home in India, the NBA has made huge investments across the sub-continent. The NBA Academy in Delhi spotted Amaan Sandhu aged 13 and already showing plenty of potential, which eventually led to him earning a sports scholarship in the United States.
Having now joined the Monmouth University Men’s Basketball program, located in West Long Branch, New Jersey, whether Amaan Sandhu makes it professionally is entirely and quite literally in his own hands.
Hopes for the future
Given the growing influence of participants aiming to establish themselves in the NBA, there are certainly plenty of signs that Indian-born players could make their mark before too long. This will certainly enthuse the growing number of NBA fans across the sub-continent, eager to see one of their own reach the elite competition and play regularly.
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The increased number of academies have begun to germinate plenty of exciting talents, which certainly bodes well for the future. There is a growing sensation that in the coming years, we will finally get to cheer on Indian players in the NBA, capable of achieving starring roles. When that does eventually happen, and it will, the explosion in popularity for the NBA across India will be of monumental proportions.