Satnam's moment of reckoning

7-feet-2-inch 'chottu' relieved after Dallas Mavericks pick him in NBA draft

Satnam's moment of reckoning
As India and world watched in awe the rise of Satnam Singh Bhamara, the youngster from a humble beginning, struggled to come in terms with reality. He admitted the news of his making it to NBA appeared “unreal” after a night spent in painful anticipation and anxiety.

The Dallas Mavericks selected the 7-foot-2-inch, 19-year-old with the 52nd pick in the draft. He, though, is unlikely to make it into the team but will be honing his skills at the Development League level.  He had his two cousins in attendance at draft night in New York on Thursday and when Mavericks chose him, history was made.

"Forget about sleep, I haven't even eaten anything because of the anxiety. There were no nerves as such but just that feeling that I should make it into the draft. I was certainly hopeful after coming this far but there is always a big if. But by the grace of God I have realised my dream," he said.

It was a dream held tightly together by Satnam who ironically is called “chottu” or the “little one” by his family. He was already five-feet–nine at the age of nine! His height is a credit to his genes, his father Balbir Singh Bhamara is also seven-feet-two. Family, however, remains the centre for Satnam who had come to the US in September 2010 as part of a scholarship programme between IMG and Reliance.

"I haven't been able to call home but I will certainly get connected via skype. I can never forget about the prayers and sacrifices of my mother, who is instrumental in me getting here,” said Satnam.

"My sister also went to the Guruduwara and prayed a lot for me. I can't also thank enough Dr. Subramaniam, my first coach, who believed in me and always encouraged me to chase my dreams and achieve my goals."

“He had a dream that any one of his ward should play in the NBA and today his dream has been realised. I am missing him a lot at this moment.”

Satnam profusely thanked coaches of US-based IMG Reliance Academy Kenny Natt and Daniel J , for the bringing out the best in him.

"It was Daniel who has worked with me since the last five years. He was instrumental in getting me to the US. He helped me a lot in honing my skills and getting my nuances in place," said Satnam who idolises Kobe Bryant.

"Kenny told me to believe in myself before the draft night.”

Satnam said he was looking forward to interact with German star Dirk Nowitzki, who is part of the Dallas squad.”It will definitely be a learning experience and I would certainly look to pick a few things from Dirk Nowitzki," he said.

Though always up for a chat in Punjabi, Satnam insisted English was no longer a hurdle for him. "Now I can speak and understand English well. There is a bit of a problem when somebody speaks fast, but I have come to term with the language," he said.

Name: Satnam Singh Bhamara
Born: 10 Dec, 1995
Place:  Ballo Ke, Punjab
Height: 7 ft 2 inch (2.18 m)
Weight: 132 kg
Position: Centre

* He moved to the United States in September 2010 as part of a scholarship programme between IMG Academy and Reliance.

* He is the first person ever born in India to be drafted by an NBA team. Sim Bhullar, a  7 ft 5 inch centre, became the first person of Indian descent to play in the NBA when he appeared in three games for the Sacramento Kings in April 2015. But he was born and raised in Canada.

* Playing for the IMG Academy team in Florida, Singh, during the 2014-15 season, averaged 9.2 points, 8.4 rebounds and 2.2 blocks in less than 20 minutes per game.

* Singh did not receive any scholarship offers to play for an American college. This is first time since high schoolers became ineligible for the draft in 2005 that a player was selected without playing in college, overseas or in the NBA Development League.

* He is nicknamed Chhotu — Little One. There were no basketball courts in his village. His father’s wheat farm is four miles from the nearest paved road, so he was sent off to a basketball academy at age 12.

* Father’s dream: “My father wanted to play basketball, but my grandfather insisted he could not. They were a family of farmers. He had fields to tend,” Singh said. “He never got the chance that I am getting now. He is very proud of me, and I want to play this game as well as I can play. That is my task now,” he added.

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