Not so impressive welcome for a sparkling star

Going by the numbers seen when an NBA star has visited the City in the past, a basketball-crazy mob was expected to assemble at the Sree Kanteerava indoor stadium but no more than 200 people turned up at stadium which certainly needed some cleaning up.

The Superman, despite all that could have potentially put him off, was being the Superman the world has come to love. With a broad smile, and even broader shoulders, he kept the ‘crowd’ on its feet, played a couple of pranks on Karnataka State Basketball Association President K Govindaraj and shot a series of left-handed free throws with ease. But when it came to business, he was all business.

“It’s so nice to finally be here. I have travelled around the world since the days of being a rookie (seven years ago) but never really got a chance to come to this wonderful place. It’s a blessing to be here. I want to see tigers more than anything else,” the 2008 Slam Dunk contest winner said.

“My job here is to help the Indian national team for the upcoming Asian Games. My other mission is to promote basketball here,” he added.

An hour after his arrival at the stadium, Howard lined the Indian men’s senior team on the baseline and had them go through simple warm-up drills before working on their offence. Screen-and-roles, turn-table jump shots and post-up plays were focused on but Howard, being the two-time defensive player of the year that he is, got to working on defence as quickly as he could. Howard taught the team how to get their body in postition and also concentrated on the position of the hand when defending; a concept the national team players were absolutely unaware of.
“I have seen a lot of guys with talent. Hope they do well in the future,” Howard said at the end of the afternoon session.

Bright future

“Basketball can be the number one sport in India, or so I hope. Basketball is a fun sport to watch and a fun sport to play and it will draw in people wherever. You can learn a lot about basketball from life and learn a lot about life from basketball. It’s just the way it works. See I don’t play for money, I don’t play for glory, I play the sport simply because it’s fun,” Howard added.

However, with a couple of hours having gone by, and the news of Howard unveiling NBA merchandise at the Brigade road Adidas showroom having spread, hundreds flocked the shop. They tried to enter the showroom but with the cops and a couple of guards chasing them away, they had to be satisfied with a view of the ace from outside the showroom.

But with Howard waving and blowing kisses in the direction of the fans, their date with the Superman was quite memorable.

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