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A 7' 5" Punjabi-Canadian university student has become the first Indian-origin player to sign to a National Basketball Association (NBA) team in the United States.
Sim Bhullar, 21, signed a summer contract with the California side Sacramento Kings on Monday in a move that could potentially pave the way to him signing to the team's full roster for the 2014-15 NBA season.
Born and raised in Toronto, where his Punjabi parents settled in the 1980's, Bhullar attends New Mexico State University on a basketball scholarship.
At 360 lbs, Bhullar was the biggest player in the recent NBA draft.
Despite some impressive performances for his University side the youngster was not awarded a full team contract as some experts were of the view that Bhullar is too "raw" and lacked the confidence required for the world's biggest, most lucrative Basketball league.
Nevertheless, experts believe that Bhullar can do for Basketball in India what former Chinese-origin NBA legend Yao Ming did for the sport in his country.
And Bhullar is thankful to get his foot on the extraordinarily competitive NBA ladder.
"It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Not everybody gets to do it…so it's an honour and a blessing and I just thank God every day for putting me in this situation."
Before he signed with the King's, Bhullar decided to drop out of university to concentrate on developing his professional career and is said to be working at a specialist Basketball academy in Las Vegas.
Bhullar says he is immensely proud to be representing India and the Indian Diaspora community around the world.
"Ultimately, the goal is to be one of the pioneers in Indian Basketball. Hopefully I want to lead the way for a lot of young Indians growing up to take up Basketball.
"With my career, I definitely want to look back and know that I've made an impact on the NBA and hopefully Basketball around the world".
Tall genes run in Bhullar's family. Father Avtar is 6' 5" while mom Varinder is 5' 10".
Sim's younger brother Tanveer stands 7' 3" tall and is also a promising basketball player.
Incidentally, the Sacramento Kings franchise is co-owned by Vivek Ranadive, a multi-millionaire technology tycoon who became the first man of Indian origin to own an NBA franchise when he bought the Golden State Warriors side in 2010.Read More »