Can India replicate IPL’s success with its basketball league?

When it comes to the sport of cricket, there aren’t many leagues bigger than the IPL, or Indian Premier League. It’s the top league in a country where cricket is the national sport and is home to hundreds of millions of fans of the sport. It was conceived in 2007 off the back of India’s victory in the T20 World Cup that year.

The opening ceremony was hosted in the urban hub of New Delhi and attracted millions of spectators from around the world. Since then, the league itself has become a magnetic attraction for some of the biggest names in the sport, and some of the clubs in the IPL have seen their fan bases absolutely skyrocket. There is also a lot of interest in betting markets on basketball, and there are plenty of places to find top NBA betting odds online if you know where to look.

The history of basketball leagues in India

There was already a cricket league in the country at the time called the Indian Cricket League, or ICL, so the Indian Premier League was developed as a competing league. It follows a Twenty-20 style of playing, which had become really popular at the time due to the short nature of the game compared to cricket matches, which suited a league system with more teams. And also, it keeps audiences of the sport more engaged, as test matches tend to have the potential to put people off due to them usually taking place over multiple days. And the high profile of the league has attracted investors, with some clubs being bought for over $100 million.

Will it follow in the IPL’s footsteps?

Now, following the success that the IPL has accrued since its inception, there is a lot of anticipation as to whether the basketball league is going to follow the same trend. The biggest country in the world for basketball is the USA, and the IPL and its set-up and structure (franchise model) took inspiration from the USA. And so are we going to see the same influence when it comes to this basketball league?

It was jointly created by both the HAI and the Basketball Federation of India in 2021. However, it wasn’t until last year that we saw the first season between 2022 and 2023. The shorthand for the league is INBL, the Indian National Basketball League. Chennai Heat won the title in the first ever season, which saw games spread out across the three cities of Delhi, Kochi, and Pune.

Why have they opted for a closed setup?

The INBL is also different from other basketball leagues in other countries, such as the NBA in the USA, in the way that it operates in a closed-set-up manner. What is meant by this is that it is only open to players of Indian descent, whereas the NBA, for example, allows athletes from other countries to participate and play. The purpose behind this is to try and encourage more homegrown talent within the league so as to grow the sport within the country and nurture new players to raise the profile of both the sport and the league within the country.

The reason for the INBL

There were basketball leagues prior to this in India, but the INBL has been formed to reinvigorate the sport and passion within the country, nurture homegrown talent, and hopefully emulate the correct steps to success that the IPL has demonstrated that it can do. The first basketball league was back in 2015 and was called the UBA, but it only had four seasons until its demise. Basketball in the country has been played for decades prior to this, but this was mainly at the university and high school level.

India as a country has been one of the earliest adopters of the sport, and it wants to play on this advantage and wealth of experience by setting up a structure and foundation that can try to raise the profile of the sport, and that’s part of the reason why the INBL was formed. As a country, it has a history of producing some fantastic professional basketball players. and the Basketball Federation of India, which was one of the two governing bodies that founded the league, have also been around since the 1950s and have overseen the growth of the sport within the country.

Olympic record

The country has also performed in the Basketball Olympics. Its first ever tournament was back in 1980, when the games were hosted in Moscow, Russia. Their history within the Olympics, however, wasn’t off to the best start, with their highest early finish being 5th place as they struggled against their regional rivals China, South Korea, and Iran. However, over the years and thanks to the influence that the NBA has had on basketball within India,.

The influence of the NBA

A deal was made with the authorities in India to broadcast the NBA across the country back in 2012, which propelled and reignited the profile of the sport in the country. Over the next 4 years, this snowballed, eventually culminating in the country establishing the UBA. And thanks to both the UBA and the NBA’s influence, the INBL has started on a strong footing and is showing strong potential to emulate the success of the IPL. There are also plenty of academies across the country that are also hoping to bolster the talent of players in the country and encourage them to progress up to the professional level.

In Summary

To conclude everything, the future of basketball within India looks very promising, and over the next decade, we can expect to see tremendous growth when it comes to the INBL. However, this is primarily going to be dependent on a few different factors. The first is that the league itself and the teams within it are going to need some heavy investment not only to finance growth but also to grow the profile of the clubs to attract new talent and sponsorships towards them.

The next thing that the country has already tried to encourage by implementing the closed setup is gathering homegrown talent again to raise the profile of support. Ensuring that over the next few decades the sport will continue to grow and flourish in the country and will hopefully start to spread to other countries in the same way the IPL is watched by millions of people across the world.