Orlando (Florida): With basketball getting global, Miami Heat superstar Dwyane Wade hopes to see Indian cagers make it big at the National Basketball Association (NBA) in the near future.
"I mean, that's what this is about, right? The thing that is is (to) understand is that our game is so global (and) is becoming bigger. And you want to make sure that you can give the players around the world an opportunity to showcase their talents and also be exposed to other other basketball players and other athletes around the world (sic.)," Wade said on the sidelines of Junior NBA Global Championships.
A 13-time NBA All-Star, Wade is serving as one of the Global Ambassadors at the youth basketball meet.
"So that's why I am an ambassador of this game. I know India has big fans of NBA. And we want to see players come from India be stars in NBA," said Wade who, in his 16-year career with the Heat, helped guide the team to four consecutive NBA Finals from 2011 to 2014 along with LeBron James and Chris Bosh.
In the junior NBA meet, US Central (girls) and US West (boys) won the competition where India also took part as one of the eight international teams.
The boys and girls lost to Canada in the quarterfinals, but the highlight was the way the boys played against the mighty Canadians, the second best team in the world, almost pulling off a major upset against the country which houses the reigning NBA champions, Toronto Raptors. The game went into overtime where they lost 56-64 after being down 16-25 at halftime.
Indian basketball shot into global limelight when Punjab's Satnam Singh Bhamara became the first Indian to be picked in an NBA draft in 2015. Satnam is without a team now and trains at the Sacramento Kings basketball facility in California.
After Satnam, Amjyot Singh is currently playing in the NBA G-League for Wisconsin Herd, an affiliate of the Milwaukee Bucks, while Amritpal Singh previously plied his trade for Australian NBL team Sydney Kings in 2017-18.
Palpreet Singh was picked by D-League team Long Island Nets in 2016, an affiliate of the NBA's Brooklyn Nets, though he did not get a game.
But with the NBA academy now in place at Jaypee Greens Integrated Sports Complex in Noida, talented youngsters like Harsh Dagar and Lokendra Singh -- the shining lights for India in this competition along with female cager Muskan Singh -- are coming up.
"Your biggest thing is the growth. It's like from year to year, these young players get better and kids get an opportunity to see other players up close. The (NBA stars) players get an opportunity to have something to strive for, to help them become better," said the 37-year-old who helped US capture gold at the 2008 Olympics.
Wade also spoke about his recent retirement from the game. "I've done everything I want. I don't feel retired yet," he said.
"I'm sure once training camp starts and all the things I am used to, I will not get involved, that's when it will feel like, 'Oh dang, I really retired' (sic.)."