George Gervin assists with the NBA Cares program in India.
And the global influence of the game has effected every aspect of it: from foreigners playing in the NBA, to NBA players going to foreign countries to play, to NBA games being held in other countries like the Raptors/Nets games in London last week. More than ever now, NBA-affiliated programs and leagues are spreading over the globe, from Europe, South America, Africa, South-East Asia, and of course, China and India.
“With the NBA Cares program, you now have NBA-related events all over the world to involve kids in basketball,” Gervin added, “We want to use basketball as a tool to make sure that the kids get a good education. I enjoy working with kids a lot and have been doing it at my academy back in San Antonio, but this is the first time I’m doing something like this overseas – hopefully I can come back to India in the future.”
While in India, Gervin and Katie conducted basketball clinics with the Indian youth, met with university students, and participated in local community events in underserved areas. In Delhi and Mumbai, the two attended the finals of the Mahindra NBA Challenge, a recreational, inner-city league organized in several Indian cities in the past two years. Additionally, In Mumbai, they participated in a clinic at the YMCA International Court and held a special Women’s Empowerment Clinic at Sophia College for students from Sophia College and SNDT Women’s University. They also held a basketball clinic with students of Magic Bus, a non-profit organization working with children from marginalized backgrounds.
In Delhi, Gervin and Smith held more clinics at universities, school, and even a special basketball beginner’s clinic for underprivileged children in the outskirts of the city.
It was a great gesture by the two, particularly Gervin, an older legend of the game, to come halfway across the world to share his hoops enthusiasm, even though it was to an audience that were too far-removed from his achievements and his highlight reels. Last year, current All-Stars Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol were in India, and they were obviously treated with louder fanfare. But it would be reckless to forget about legends like Gervin: I found an interview with Austin Kent of ‘The Good Point’ a few years ago, where The Iceman had said “When I played, the media wasn’t as involved, the technology wasn’t there. If the world had a chance to see a lot of the guys – like myself – in this era, we would probably be looked at differently.”
Well, in India, we got to see a very different Iceman; we got to see someone who has a new legend off the court that matches the Hall-of-Fame career he had on it.
Karan Madhok works as a writer and Communications Officer for the Basketball Federation of India (BFI) in New Delhi. He is also a blogger for NBA.com/India. Read more of his work at his blog, Hoopistani.