If you are looking for “must hoop” courts in India, look no further than Nagpada a neighborhood in South Mumbai, India, with a rich history of basketball and the birth to many of the country’s elite players.
The Nagpada Basketball Association court (formerly Nagpada Neighbourhood House with the court called the Late Bachoo Khan Municipal Playground) is the court, if you had to choose one. With its shortened acronym of ‘NBA’, you know you are stepping onto a hallowed home of hoops, where casual and legendary hoopers ball shoulder to shoulder.
Bang in the middle of India’s – and indeed one of the world’s largest megapolises – the court has to be reached after crossing chaotic bylanes choked with noisy two wheelers, hordes of pedestrians and the ubiquitous kaali-peeli (black and yellow) taxis in the streets.
But the court itself is an oasis of calm in the middle of the city madness, with pick-up games of kids of all ages hooping. Named after the legendary Bachoo Khan, who introduced basketball to this neighbourhood way back in the ‘50s, this singular court has produced multiple players of international caliber.
The court started with dirt on the ground, not today’s cement. In the early years you could develop your basketball skills and even become a professional, getting paid to hoop on the India national basketball team.
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Couple of weekends ago, during my trip to Mumbai for the #NBAIndiaGames I finally got a chance to visit the iconic Nagpada basketball neighborhood. The Nagpada court alone has produced anywhere between 15-21 India players including legendary names like Arjuna Awardee Abbas Moontasir, Shahid Qureshi and Abdul 'Babu' Hameed. Barely 50 mtrs away on the other side of a chaotic narrow Dimtimkar lane is the @mastan_ymca_official courts, which is historic in its own right. Nagpada Basketball Association (aka 'NBA') and Mastan YMCA share an epic rivalry that stretches back decades and which they call their own 'El Clasico' *** ✍ & 🎥 by @gopal1204 ______________ #KnowYourGame #IndiaBasketball #HoopsHistory #Nagpada #Mastan #MumbaiBasketball #ElClasico #CourtsOfIndia #IconicCourts #SupremeCourts
Nagpada is very much India’s own ‘Rucker Park’, and that is not an exaggeration by any stretch of imagination.
Till the late nineties, the area was notorious for its dreaded gangsters, many of whom also happened to be diehard fans of basketball. In fact, it is said that whenever there was any high stakes basketball game underway, the crime rates in the area dropped down for those few hours.
Being a prominent street court, you can imagine that classic rivalries too aren’t far behind. For decades, the teams from NBA have locked horns with their neighbourhood rivals from the Mastan YMCA, another court barely 50 metres away, with its own rich basketball legacy.
If you are a baller visiting India and happen to land in Mumbai, then Nagpada is a must hoop venue.
Article by Ekalavyas, India’s leading basketball media company. Follow them on Instagram at @ekalavyas