New Delhi: Ten-year-old Vasisht Krishna Neti from Bengaluru was backing Mile High City to beat LA Clippers in the NBA Game 7 even as the odds were stacked against the Denver Nuggets. The only thing he knew that he would be cheering for his favourite team as a die-hard fan for this all-important game.
Little did he know that his passion for the game and team would lead him to be one of the four lucky ones from India selected as virtual fans. Along with Neti, Kairav Sharma and Parnika Srivastava from Noida and Prathmesh Singh from Delhi were given this experience, something none of them could imagine when they signed up for the NBA Basketball Schools.
The NBA’s virtual fan experience for the 2019-20 season allows fans to look through live on the ‘Michelob ULTRA Courtside’ 17-foot video boards of the environs of the courts. The fans can interact with each other throughout the game via the digital platform by removing fans from their individual background and taking them together in a shared visual space that will be seen through the broadcast and in the game venue.
The Neti house was unusually full-on noise on Wednesday (September 16) as their youngest member robustiously backed his team through the game holding a banner that has written on it, ‘Let’s Go Denver, Love from India’. “I was on unmute the whole time during the game, cheering as loud as I could,” said the young cager from Gear Innovative International School.
On the other hand, Srivastava was heartbroken since she was cheering for the Clippers. But that didn’t grey her spirits. “This was one of my best mornings ever,” exclaimed the 10th-grade student of Delhi Public School. The one thing both Neti and Srivastava couldn’t stop raving about was how they could clearly hear the coaches talk to the players. “It gave me goosebumps to hear them,” said Neti.
As Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic led Nuggets to an emphatic 104-89 win over LA Clippers to make it to their first Western Conference finals in 11 years, it was also an ecstatic moment to witness the historic achievement virtually for the four youth.
“I woke up early and was super excited for the game,” said Neti. Srivastava logged in much earlier to catch a glimpse of her favourite team’s pre-game warmups. “I literally saw the players training before the game and was constantly cheering for LA Clippers. And the best part was that the platform gave me an opportunity to cheer harder for the Clippers when Nuggets players took free throws,” explained Srivastava.
The NBA Basketball School is a network of tuition-based basketball development programs around the world open to international male and female players ages 6-18. Earlier this April, the NBA introduced online sessions for the NBA Basketball Schools network to keep youth active during this lockdown.
This opportunity is yet another testament to how the NBA’s basketball development programs in India are not only focused on imparting knowledge about the sport but also find ways to create platforms on which the students can attain the most premium experience of the sport.