Thomas to promote basketball in India

New Delhi: National Basketball Association (NBA) point guard Isaiah Thomas of the Sacramento Kings arrived in Mumbai on Friday for a week-long tour to promote the game of basketball and to enhance NBA`s fan base in the country.

On his first trip to India, Thomas will travel across Mumbai and Chennai, participating in a wide range of activities, coaching children and interacting with local celebrities.

Thomas, a 5`9`` guard from the University of Washington, was the 60th overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft.

In the 2013-14 regular season, he set career highs in minutes per game (34.7), points per game (20.3), assists per game (6.3), steals per game (1.3) and field goal percentage (45.3%). He finished 11th in the Kia NBA Most Improved Player Award voting.

On January 19, he scored a career-high 38 points against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Five days later, he tied this total against the Indiana Pacers. On March 18, he recorded his first career triple-double with 24 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds in a 117-111 overtime win over the Washington Wizards.

Thomas marks the 31st NBA or WNBA player or legend to travel to India since 2006 to help grow the game following All-Stars such as Chris Bosh, Pau Gasol, and Dwight Howard.

"I`m honoured to be representing the Kings and the entire NBA in India this off-season and will do whatever I can to help grow the game here by inspiring children," said Thomas.

The Kings are owned by Vivek Ranadive, the first NBA owner from India, and have a rapidly growing fan base in the Indian and Asian markets. During the past season, more than 20 Kings games were broadcast on Sony SIX, including a live broadcast of the Kings opening night. The Kings were also the first team to launch a dedicated Hindi website -- www.Kings.Com/hindi.

"We are extremely excited to have a member of the Sacramento Kings visit India this summer, and Isaiah`s passion for the game and the community makes him a great ambassador for the sport in India," said Ranadive.

During his stay in India, Thomas will conduct several basketball clinics at schools and community organisations across Mumbai and Chennai. He will provide in-depth Finals analysis for fans in India on Sony SIX.

On June 7, Thomas will conduct the first-ever Google hangout to promote the official NBA online store in India, NBAStore.In. A few lucky fans will be selected to interact with Isaiah and showcase NBA merchandise.

He will also be on-hand to tip off the first stage of the Reliance Foundation Jr. NBA Program`s Basketball Hoops Infrastructure project.

Reliance Foundation and NBA India have partnered to install basketball hoops at schools across the Mumbai. IES School in Dadar is the first school to receive the new equipment. Thomas will conduct clinics for students at the IES school in Dadar and at a local government school in Chennai.

The NBA opened its first office in Mumbai in 2011 and is committed to growing basketball in India. The league has hosted more than 500 events in 10 cities since 2008. The league has marketing partnerships in India with adidas, Coca-Cola, Nike, Reebok and Spalding; has NBA merchandise widely available in 225 adidas locations and the newly launched NBAStore.In. A record 14 games aired per week this season on Sony SIX, up from three during the 2012-13 season.

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