Within the state of Punjab lies the Ludhiana Basketball Academy- a monument to sports education, built on a foundation of skill and determination. A breeding ground for future NBA and international All-Star players, LBA has a long history of students that broke into the global eye. Join us, as we unravel the unwavering resolve and expertise of the students of this renowned institution. The NBA and Uber Present: Hoop Nation, tales of courage and determination from the basketball courts of India.
To be a sportsman takes resolve. Whether swimming in the open sea or running across counties, whether speeding down snowy slopes upon thin skis or perfecting the aim of an arrow shot through a tensed bow, all athletes hold the same universal truth in good stead: to be the best takes discipline. This was the mantra by which the Ludhiana Basketball Academy was founded, in the year 2002, with an aim to breed the best players in the world, through a rigorous regimen of practice, training and concentration.
“In Punjabi, we say ‘Dhol-ka-Pol’,” explains Teja Singh Dhaliwal, Vice President of BFI and General Secretary of the LBA, “We have nothing, but we are certainly producing champions!”
Inaugurated in the year 2003, the Ludhiana Basketball Academy is the first-ever basketball academy in the state, with a reputation for nurturing the talent of the next generation of International-level basketball players. Vice President of the Basketball Federation of India and General Secretary of the LBA, Teja Singh Dhaliwal serves as the commander-in-chief of the prestigious institution. A man with a firm belief in constantly testing his charges on their skill and determination, Teja places great importance in not just their scorecards, but in what they may give back to both society and themselves.
One such exemplar of Teja’s notion of societal responsibility, will, and determination is LBA’s very own Jagdeep Singh Bains, a former police officer and Captain of the Punjab Team. A source of constant inspiration to his tea, the long-time star-player suffered a serious injury while playing basketball in China in 2012- only to bounce back in 2017, this time securing a gold win for the Punjab team. “His game looks different from everyone else’s,” explains Kanwar Gulwal Singh, a trainee at the LBA, “We all hope to play as well as him one day.”
With a legacy for producing homegrown champions, the LBA is a monument to Indian sports education. Amongst their man contributions to International Basketball and the NBA are such paragons of the sport as Satnam Singh, Amjyot Singh, Palpreet Singh, and Amritpal Singh, who all serve as torchbearers of the institution’s values. Known for their long-limbed, defensive game, the players of the LBA play as a team, holding faith in the fact that no matter which of them is drafted onto the court, the resultant win is an assured one.
With an undeniable legacy of investing on only the finest talent, even being accepted into the Academy is a proud feat. An institution where age is not considered representative of skill, the LBA players expect the same standard of excellence from even their rookie recruits.
“Everybody obviously has it in their heads that Ludhiana Academy is the finest, and so are its players, and therefore their youth are also probably the same. Explains Jagdeep Singh Bains, “The fear is already in their heads.”
The genre of Hip-Hop is intricately entwined with the sport of basketball. With a cultural overlap between the two realms, and with the same underlying message of personal growth in the face of adversity, Hip-Hop music and basketball exist in a state of inseparable unity.
“Basketball, or any game, has the ability to change lives, it asks you to put your problems in a basket and move forward,”Explains 20-year-old rapper Kunal Pandagale A.K.A. Kaam Bhaari, who lends his lyrical rap to this episode, “Basketball is all about hip-hop, the game has a rhythm, just like life does. “
With a lyrical flow inspired by nature, and the need to move and grow, Kaam Bhaari began his musical journey when he felt what he describes as a primitive call of nature, an innate drive to abandon his everyday existence for the pursuit of melody. “It was strange, it happened as a miracle.” Kaam explains, “Music is a miracle, and I feel like I was chosen to experience it,”
It was this very calling that found the young rapper amongst the finest talent in Indian basketball, rapping about their journey to the top in the style of his Kandivali 101 rap, even garnering attention from LeBron James himself. “I am so glad I got to be associated with the NBA and basketball. These players are the best in the business,” Kaam elaborates, “Ludhiana has the most beautiful, strong, fit people, and their physical fitness mirrors their mental fitness.”
It was so that the title track for LBA se NBA, the energetic and motivational ‘Yeh Raasta’ was born, being penned and recorded in a span of just 4 days from the start of filming.
The unparalleled will and determination of the players of the Ludhiana Basketball Academy is a true testament to their skill. Within a nation where athletes and sportsmen hold a special place in the hearts of society, the LBA is truly a gem of Indian sports, serving as a constant reminder that excellence is but a byproduct of determination. As Kaam so rightfully puts it, “Tujhe jeetne ka shauq hai toh khud ko atal banana padega,”
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