MUMBAI: NBA commissioner Adam Silver, NBA deputy commissioner Mark Tatum, Sacramento Kings owner Vivek Ranadive, Indiana Pacers’ Steve Simon, NBA legend Dikembe Mutombo and NBA India managing director Rajesh Sethi laid the foundation for legacy project at the BMC Marathi School at Sitaram Mills Compound in Mumbai on Saturday.
As a part of the commitment, the NBA, Indiana Pacers and Sacramento Kings – in partnership with American India Foundation (AIF) – will support five under-resourced Municipal schools in Mumbai with technology equipment, trained teachers, a basketball court, and improved infrastructure capacities.
"I think the NBA and its family have created a platform for so many people to follow, as an example and a model. I am really happy with the work the NBA is doing, especially with its players and owners. We are making the world a better place. We are teaching our kids the game of basketball. It's very important that the kids learn how to play the sport in a healthy and safe environment," said Mutombo at the sidelines of the event.
The NBA legend added that he always wanted to give back something to his home country Congo once he became a professional basketball player.
"I grew up in an economically backward country and when I got a chance to play the game of basketball, I decided that I want to go back and do something for my country. I built a $30 million hospital and I am going to launch a $4 million school in January," said the 53-year-old who has a foundation dedicated to improving the health, education and quality of life for the people of Congo.
Mutombo expressed that India has the platform for basketball to become one of the top sports in the country.
"For a long time, people said that there's no chance of a league in Africa. We traveled there many times, organizing grassroots initiatives and developed the game of basketball for the young people. And now basketball is one of the fastest-growing sports in the continent. I believe that India has the same platform. We've seen basketball grow in China and Philippines. We are not looking to take over cricket here, but the youngsters should have a chance to decide which sport they want to play,” said the Hall Of Famer.