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NBA puts full-court press on India

Basketball is the second fastest growing sport in India, with 4 million now playing the game.

Indeed, interest in the NBA has skyrocketed in such distant outposts as Australia, China and parts of Africa. And basketball is now a mainstay in South America’s two biggest countries, Argentina and Brazil, as well as in many, major European countries. England is not among them. But that hasn’t stopped the NBA, as a prelude to the 2012 Olympics, from picking London as the site for its first-ever regular-season game outside North America.

India is obviously a long-term slog. Then again, it would have been hard to imagine the escalating level of basketball interest in China not all that long ago. Of course, what would speed up the NBA’s arrival in India — far more than the presence of Gasol, Howard and other NBA luminaries who are now making the long trek — would be the emergence of an Indian Yao Ming.

While that is not necessarily on the horizon, there is some buzz about a 15-year-old — he’s already seven feet tall and wears a size 22 shoe — who now plays for India’s junior national team. And the NBA’s wise men know that size is one thing you can never teach.