The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame was established in Springfield, Massachusetts way back in 1959. Built in the memory of the inventor of hoops, James Naismith, entering the Hall of Fame is the ultimate dream of players, coaches, referees, teams, administrators and other contributors alike.
56 years after coming into existence, the Hall of Fame finally has an Indian presence, albeit in the audience. Universal Basketball Alliance (UBA), the team behind organising India’s first private professional basketball league, was accorded a warm welcome at HoF 2015 that was held on 11th September 2015, when the latest enshrinement ceremony took place. The occasion was especially special for UBA-India CEO Deepesh Solanki. Mr Solanki got the incredible opportunity to interact with newest inductees Lisa Leslie, Dikembe Mutombo, college coach John Calipari and referee Richard “Dick” Bavetta. Mr Solanki also rubbed shoulders with Nike’s well known co-founder Phil Knight.
Team Ekalavyas chatted with Mr Solanki, who shared with us dozens of images and explained why it was important for him to be representing India at the marquee event.
Here’s Mr Solanki in his own words:
The experience of meeting so many successful players that owe their financial and personal success to this great game of basketball, was absolutely wonderful! The main idea we could bring back to India is that basketball can change people’s lives in many ways. From team work to competing, to self fulfilment of playing for financial independence.
The purpose of UBA’s presence was to let the NBA and Hall of Fame know of the rising standard of basketball that is now being played in India. We also expect UBA to form an alliance with both these entities for years to come.
Several NBA stars and executives were amazed by the footage of INDIAN INSANITY. They also wished us success in the future.
Key UBA Investor Tommy Fisher echoed his colleague’s sentiments while sharing his observations on the state of basketball in India, based on what he saw at the inaugural Pro Basketball League in Hyderabad last month:
The hospitality and friendliness of the Indian people was wonderful. There was talent but more consistent play is needed, which will come with coaching and more playing time together. The players’ heart was unmatched!
Diet and training is key. They also need to work on hand strengthening to limit turnovers.
The Hall of Fame is a distant dream for most Indians. But this UBA-India’s visit to the hallowed birthplace of basketball has to be viewed as a good omen.