It's been a wonderful trip: Gervin

NBA legend George Gervin (right) and WNBA player Katie Smith during a clinic in Mumbai.

With commissioner David Stern intent on making the sport and the American league as popular in India as successfully as it has become in China, the NBA has been bringing in loads of former and active players to India for clinics and camps over the last couple of years.

“The trip has been good man,” said Gervin in a phone interview with Deccan Herald. “A real eye opener and I’m really thankful to the NBA for giving me this opportunity. I have heard so much about the place and I’ve always wanted to visit it. This is my first time here and I’m loving it. I’ve never been around so many people. The landscape, the people and everything else is awesome.”

When asked about the quality of basketball in India, Gervin said: “I’m in no position to comment on the quality of basketball in the country because I’ve barely seen anything. But the best part is that they all seem to have the ability to learn quickly. I wouldn’t be surprised to see an Indian in the NBA or the WNBA.”

The ‘Iceman’ Gervin, who played for the American Basketball Association’s Virginia Squires before playing for NBA’s San Antonio Spurs and the Chicago Bulls, is widely regarded as one of the best shooting guards to have ever walked the floor.

Katie, a three-time Olympic gold medallist with Team USA, said: “I’m very, very excited. This is a great country, all the people are so friendly. As far as the talent pool in India is concerned, I’m very impressed. There are some very good players and the girls handle so well. I guess it’s just a matter of time before India really gets going on the basketball front.”

“They’re worlds apart. Playing in the WNBA is good fun but playing for your country is something that’s hard to put into words. It’s hard. It’s very, very hard. All that training, all those expectations but I’m glad it all came together,” Katie said when asked about the difference in playing for the WNBA as to the Olympics or the World Championships.”

Gervin and Katie, who arrived in India on February 22, conducted the Mumbai camp at the Don Bosco High School, Matunga East on February 26 and the Delhi camp at the Oxford Senior Secondary School in E-Block, Vikas Puri on February 27. They will head back to the States on March 2.

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