The NBA has seen some very tall players over the years, though few as tall as Satnam Singh Bhamara. Being from India, Bhamara was a true rarity after being drafted into the Dallas Mavericks’ G-League for a time. However, he only played for the team’s affiliate, the Texas Legends.
Despite his ability and amazing height, he went through a recent doping scandal that almost derailed his basketball career. Even though he no longer plays basketball in America, he managed to make NBA history without ever playing professionally for the Mavericks.
Considering how rare it is to see players from India drafted into the NBA, it likely gives hope to others like Bhamara from similar parts of the world.
Satnam Singh Bhamara’s NBA first for India
Five years ago, Bhamara became the first Indian player to ever be drafted by the NBA. Fans in the NBA may assume people who live in India have no real desire to play basketball. This is far from the truth, though Bhamara was indeed different from his peers.
India has a basketball academy called the Ludhiana Basketball Academy where Bhamara managed to nurture his skills. Even at a young age, his height was beyond the norm of most other Indian players.
Basketball academies here in America began to take notice, winning him a scholarship to IMG Academy in Florida when he was only 15 in 2010. This only came about thanks to sports marketing company IMG partnering with Indian-based Reliance Industries to create a contract with the Basketball Federation of India.
Through this business arrangement, it allowed more players from India to start playing here in America, if Bhamara clearly standing out.
Bhamara goes beyond being the first Indian NBA player
Yes, it was truly history-making to finally see India be represented by the NBA. Not usually known is that Bhamara also became the first player drafted who had no prior experience in college, or playing professionally overseas.
Later, he extended this further since his time with the Mavericks was fairly short. Once being drafted to their G-league Texas Legends, he only played 27 games before the team let him go.
At the time, Bhamara became stunned he no longer was a member of the NBA considering how much talent he had. While some thought he was a little slower than some players (due to his height), his scoring record was still more than adequate.
He went back to India for a time to contemplate what happened, leading him to sign with the UBA Pro Basketball League in his home country. Later, he found his way in Canada to play with the St. John’s Edge for a quarter of the money he could have made in the NBA.
A doping scandal almost usurped his legacy
In November 2019, Bhamara failed a doping test while competing in the South Asian Games. He was ultimately suspended by the National Anti-Doping Agency, potentially harming his basketball career.
He also dropped out of the South Asian Games then, stating personal issues. No doubt he still bristles over what happened in the NBA and what could have been.
Regardless, he still represents India well, including being the first Indian player drafted into Canada’s National Basketball League. No one should forget he also kicked off a chain reaction of other Indian basketball players receiving more notice. Other players from there are currently playing in G-League and D-league teams within the NBA.
Knowing he set this in motion should give Bhamara some peace. Yet, his time with St. John’s Edge is also over. Last everyone heard, Bhamara was in search of another team, placing him on a new journey of fighting his way back to the top. Hopefully, he can prove himself back into the NBA through some kind of miracle.