This feature was first published in Tadpoles magazine and can be accessed here

Sim Bhullar_Pic 1_Photo credit New Mexico State University

Sim Bhullar in action at New Mexico State University. Image credit: NMSU.

All of us want to become taller. But just how tall would we like to be?

How about 7ft 5 inches? Would that be tall enough?

Meet the Bhullar brothers, and their peculiar lifestyle – not fitting inside regular sized beds, having to order custom made clothes and shoes, hitting their heads on doorways and squeezing into cars and chairs.

But that does not bother them.

Sim Bhullar, 21 and younger brother Tanveer, 19 are the famed Indo-Canadian brother duo who are making heads turn upwards in the college basketball circuits in the US. Sim is 7ft 5 inches tall and his brother a couple of inches shorter. Their parents, Avtar and Varinder, had migrated from Punjab in 1988 to Toronto, Canada in search of better lives. Little did they know then that their dreams would come true in the most surprising of ways. Father Avtar Bhullar had been a passionate kabaddi player during his days in India. So naturally, he encouraged his three children, eldest daughter Avneet, 23, Sim and Tanveer to play sports from an early age.

Like many other young Canadian kids, Sim and Tanveer started off playing floor hockey (a version of ice hockey played on indoor wooden surfaces). Soon enough, they were exposed to another indoor sport played on a wooden court: basketball, and they took to the sport like the proverbial fish does to water. Sim and Tanveer would star on the Father Henry Carr Catholic Secondary School basketball team. “They were both incredibly imposing physical players. People were in awe of them everywhere we played, even in the US,” says Paul Melnik, Bhullars’ coach at Henry Carr in an interview to The Globe and Mail.

A few years later, the brothers shifted base to the US, the fountainhead of world basketball.

In true elder brother fashion, Sim led the way by getting selected to the U-19 Canadian national team at the FIBA Americas Championship in 2010. Soon it was time for college and Sim chose 13th seeded New Mexico State UniversityAt NMSU, he averaged 10.1 points, 6.7 rebounds and 2.4 blocks as a ‘freshman’. He has since improved in the current 2013-’14 season, a direct result of losing over 30 pounds by staying away from his favourite butter chicken masala, and the innovative work of the NMSU coaching staff. He has been Western Athletic Conference’s player of the year for the last two seasons straight.

His younger brother Tanveer joined him at NMSU last year and the ‘twin towers’ are expected to resume their bruising ways from next season. “Sim has more strength now,” NMSU’s Coach Marvin Menzies told Sports on Earth. “We’re gonna continue to work – his conditioning is going to be an ongoing challenge until he gets down to the weight that is right for his body. At 7’5″, I’m not exactly sure what that is.”

That’s probably the most fascinating thing about the Bhullar brothers. They are two of a kind. Nobody quite knows what to make of them as there are no existing templates to work from.

Will they thrive and become future basketball stars or will this be yet another instance of how Indian origin players succeeded at the elite college level in the US (the ‘NCAA’) but failed somehow to take the next step into the ‘NBA’— the world’s most famous basketball league.

India, a nation of a billion plus people, is watching.

Gopalakrishnan R
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