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We can find the next Yao Ming from India: Jason Williams

Floating court: The legendary Jason Williams at a promotional event for the NBA India Games 2019.

Floating court: The legendary Jason Williams at a promotional event for the NBA India Games 2019.   | Photo Credit: Trupti Arekar

Former Miami Heat point-guard says he is confident of the NBA venture taking effect in India.

Jason Williams, a slick passer and part of the 2006 NBA champion Miami Heat, is here to experience the NBA India Games 2019. The point-guard began his pro career with Sacramento Kings in the 1998 player-draft and became a sensation in his rookie year. His teammates included Serbian star Vlade Divac, currently on the Kings management team as General Manager. Indiana Pacers is the other NBA squad that will display its potential in two pre-season games in Mumbai.

The 43-year-old Williams, speaking on the sidelines of a floating basketball court launch near the Bandra-Worli sealink, was emphatic that pro basketball had changed and those scoring three-pointers were preferred to ball-players.

“There are hardly any post-ups in the NBA. When Shaquille O’Neal, Chris Webber and Hakeem Olajuwan played, those guys used to post-up all the time. Now if you cannot shoot three-pointers, it is almost as if you don’t know the game,” he said.

Different approach

Williams, who also played for NBA sides Memphis Grizzlies and Orlando Magic, does not feel that the league needs ball-players of his calibre to sustain audience interest. “I don’t think the NBA needs anyone like me. They are in great hands with the guys they have, who play differently than I did. They want to score 30s every night.” The West Virginia-born player went on to become a crowd-puller with his trick passes and uncanny eye for picking out teammates under the offensive board.

About his instinct for creative play, Williams said: “That’s just the way I have always played. I didn’t change just because I was in the NBA or was on television. I practised all such stuff growing up.”

He has seen first-hand the following for the NBA in China last year and is confident of NBA ventures in India taking effect “I think NBA knows what they are doing. They understand the ‘help me, help you’ type of mentality. The more the love they can spread here, they can find the next Yao Ming from India.”

Though USA did not figure among the semifinalists in the FIBA World Cup 2019 held in China, the former Sacramento Kings point-guard is emphatic that NBA will continue to flourish.

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Printable version | Apr 5, 2020 10:50:28 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/other-sports/we-can-find-the-next-yao-ming-from-india/article29577384.ece

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