Pacers, Kings make history with first series in India

First-year Pacer Jeremy Lamb scored 31 points over two games in Mumbai, India.
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MUMBAI – The NBA made one of Sacramento Kings owner Vivek Ranadive’s biggest hopes a reality.

And a long-awaited debut in India went longer than planned.

T.J. Warren hit the shot that put Indiana ahead for good with 1:03 remaining, and the Pacers beat the Kings 132-131 in overtime on Friday in the first NBA game ever played in India.

A three-game schedule Friday included the Houston Rockets-Los Angeles Clippers in Honolulu and the Brooklyn Nets hosting Brazilian club Franca.

The significance of the Kings-Pacers event was enormous for Ranadive, a native of India.

“This is a historic day, but for me it’s a dream come true,” Ranadive said at a news conference before the game in Mumbai. “I left Bombay when I was 17 years old and literally I had $50 in my pocket, so to come back here with my NBA team and also bring my friend (Indiana owner) Herb Simon with his team and to play an actual NBA game is beyond my wildest, wildest imagination.”

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum were also at the game, which the league pulled off in a smaller-than-usual arena in part by bringing in a court, scoreboards, seats and even putting together locker rooms.

The Pacers and Kings will play again there Saturday. The league is also playing preseason games in China and Japan this season.

“I get so excited about it because it’s all opportunity,” Tatum said. “It’s all opportunity that we see in terms of growing this game of basketball and growing the NBA on a global basis. The time is now to take advantage of these opportunities. We have people on the ground in these places who are very, very capable.”

The league has an NBA Academy and an NBA Basketball School — a tuition-based development program — in India already, with plans to add more. But bringing the actual game to India is certainly one of the biggest steps in growing the game in a country that’s on track to pass China as the most populous in the world within a decade.

“These games are not just a one-time thing,” Tatum said. “We will continue to build off of this.”