For the last one week, Sim Bhullar, 22, has been on the road travelling to Mumbai, Noida and other places all over India. The 7’5’’ tall player, who became the first Indian-origin player to play in the NBA last month, will be conducting a coaching clinic in Chandigarh for the young basketball players. The coaching clinic will be held at New Public School, Sector 18, at 11.30 am on Wednesday.
Bhullar, who is visiting Chandigarh and Punjab for the first time, sounded excited about his visit. His family originally belongs to Punjab. While his mother Varinder Kaur hails from Amritsar, father Avtar Singh is from Bhullar village in Punjab.
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“Yes, I am excited to be in Chandigarh. I have been to Mumbai and Noida during this visit but nothing compares to my roots from where I have come. At Noida, I met some Punjabi kids who had come through Reliance Foundation Junior Programme; they were excited to meet me. There is a lot of potential in this region and a lot of youngsters are coming up. I talked with those kids in Punjabi and it felt like home to me. My parents keep telling me about Punjab and Chandigarh; I have heard a lot about food too. Yes, I will be having my favourite rajma chawal and daal roti here,” said Bhullar, who was born in Toronto, Canada, and is now one of the tallest players in the NBA.
It was a memorable moment for Bhullar in his career as he signed with the Sacramento Kings, a team owned by NRI Vivek Ranadiv, last August. Later, Bhullar was signed by Reno Bighorns, an NBA development team of the Kings. But last month saw Bhullar sign a 10-day contract with the Sacramento Kings and the lanky lad played for 16 seconds against Minnesota Timberwolves in NBA league.
“Even though I played for 16 seconds during the match against the Timberwolves, it was the biggest moment of my career. I got a chance to play with legends and spent time with coaches. Sacramento Kings have been supportive of me, and spending time with them is always beneficial for me. Ranadiv too takes interest in the team and that is encouraging for players like me,” said Bhullar, whose younger brother Tanveer Singh Bhullar plays college basketball for New Mexico State.
The last few months have also seen Indian basketball team doing well at the Asian level and the emergence of players like Satnam Singh Bhambra, who became the first Indian-born player to be included in NBA draft last month. “I have heard about Indian basketball scene and the emergence of players like Satnam Singh Bhambra is encouraging. NBA has been conducting coaching clinics in India and it will help Indian basketball. In the USA, we have NBA development league which helps young players,” said Bhullar, who also visited the Golden Temple in Amritsar on Tuesday and made a donation of Rs 5 lakh.