The NBA wants to make a push to expand its international fan base by playing more games overseas—and it appears the Indiana Pacers could pay a role in that next season.
Jim Morris, vice chairman of Pacers Sports and Entertainment, told a crowd at an Indiana India Business Council event on Aug. 15 that the Pacers might play a game in India.
Morris, who was at the event to present an award to philanthropist Christel DeHaan, said the event had not been made official but he expected it to come to fruition.
Brent Rockwood, vice president for community relations for Pacers Sports & Entertainment, later told IBJ the team is “always open to playing internationally as we have found these games provide great exposure for the NBA, the Indiana Pacers and the game of basketball.”
But he said nothing about the team’s schedule was definitive and that “the NBA makes the final call and handles all elements of international games.”
“At this time, the NBA has not finalized its international game schedule for upcoming seasons,” Rockwood told IBJ.
The NBA also could not confirm that the Pacers would play in India next season.
“As the Commissioner recently noted, we are exploring the possibility of playing a preseason game in India, but have nothing to report at this time” NBA spokesman Mike Bass told IBJ.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver recently told reporters, according to a CBS Sports report, that the league was “potentially looking to play a game in the Indian city of Mumbai, maybe next year.”
“If we do a pre-season game ... our players and their families can spend time, learn about the country’s culture,” Silver said at the Jr. NBA World Championships in Orlando. “We are very focused on the Indian market. ... There is an enormous amount of grassroots basketball being played in India.”
To promote basketball in India, the NBA in May 2017 launched The NBA Academy, an elite basketball training center at Jaypee Greens Integrated Sports Complex in Greater Noida, according to the Hindustan Times.