A basketball player whose parents migrated from the Punjab to Canada and who stands taller than even the legendary Shaquille O’ Neal, is set to become the first man of Indian origin to play in America’s National Basketball Association.
Sim Bhullar, who stands at a remarkable 7’ 5”, has just signed a short term contract with the Sacramento Kings which is, intriguingly enough, owned by Vivek Ranadive, the first NBA team owner of Indian origin.
The signing of is believed to be part of Ranadive’s larger plan to take basketball – already an immensely lucrative sport in the United States for team owners and players alike – to an even bigger global audience with a particular emphasis on the Indian sub-continent.
Ranadive told the Associated Press: “Bhullar represents one of many that will emerge from that region as the game continues to garner more attention and generate ever-increasing passion among a new generation of Indian fans”.
Under his contract with the Kings, Bhullar – who played college basketball for New Mexico State University – will have 8 games to prove his worth and convince Ranadive and Kings management to offer him a longer term deal.
Born and raised in Toronto, where his parents settled in the 1980's, Bhullar attended New Mexico State on a basketball scholarship.
Whilst his imposing height and bulk – Bhullar weighs in at just under 165 kilograms – makes him a solid defender, his agility remains limited.
Some experts say the 22-year-old is still quite raw and lacking in confidence to play in the world's biggest Basketball league.
Nevertheless Bhullar is expected to do for Basketball in India what former Chinese-origin NBA legend Yao Ming did for the sport in his country.