The first NBA games to be played in India will be staged next October at Mumbai with pre-season contests between the Indiana Pacers and Sacramento Kings, the league announced Thursday.
The 2019 matchups, the first ever by any North American sports league in the nation of 1.2 billion people, will be played October 4 and 5 at the NSCI Dome and televised live in India.
The Kings are owned by the NBA’s first Indian-born majority owner, Mumbai native Vivek Ranadive.
“As an Indian-American, it is an honor to help bring this historic moment to the country where I was raised,” Ranadive said.
“The sport is experiencing tremendous growth in India and we are excited about continuing to expand the NBA’s reach to fans across the globe. The world wants to watch basketball and India is a fast-growing new frontier.”
The Pacers, fourth in the Eastern Conference so far this season at 20-12, feature NBA All-Star forward Victor Oladipo and Lithuanian big man Domantas Sabonis.
“We’re thrilled to be one of the first two teams to play the first-ever game in India and proud to be part of the expanding NBA worldwide footprint of our game of basketball,” Pacers owner Herb Simon said.
Sacramento stands 16-15, but only a half-game behind eighth-place San Antonio and a playoff spot in the Western Conference. The Kings feature this year’s second pick from the NBA Draft, Marvin Bagley III, plus past high selections De’Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield.
“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,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said.
Youth clinics and community outreach events in Mumbai will also be conducted by the NBA, which opened a training academy for top basketball prospects in Delhi last year and an office in Mumbai in 2011.