Jan 09 2012
You don’t see this every day: a United States senator and a former NBA player, spreading the gospel of team sports and healthy lifestyles to young people – in New Delhi, India.
That’s what Senator Mark Warner and former NBA star Muggsy Bogues did today on the first day of Senator Warner’s week-long congressional visit to try to increase economic and cultural ties between the United States and India.
Warner is leading a delegation that also includes Colorado Senator Michael Bennet, New Mexico Senator Tom Udall, New York Congressman Joseph Crowley and Louisiana Congressman Cedric Richmond. The delegation is meeting with top government and business leaders in New Delhi, Jaipur, Hyderabad and Kolkata, exploring opportunities to expand business, trade, defense and cultural relationships between the two countries.
But for at least one hour on Monday at New Delhi’s Modern School, it was all about basketball. Activities included a Junior NBA clinic for 75 local young people, led by Muggsy Bogues, followed by an exhibition game between two teams from the Mahindra NBA challenge youth league.
“It was great to see these Indian youngsters developing a love for the American invention of basketball,” Senator Warner said. “I’ve played basketball my entire life, and even though I’m not especially good at it, the sport promotes fitness and teaches you a lot about teamwork. I think basketball might take-off in India.”
"A lot of people told me when I was young that I wouldn't make it, but I did, and I survived the NBA for 14 years,” Bogues told the youngsters, according to the Indian sports blogger Karan Madhok. “This was only because I believed in myself. You have to believe in yourself too and understand the importance of self-motivation to achieve your goals."
At 5-foot-3, Bogues is the shortest player ever to play in the NBA. He is best known for his time with the Charlotte Hornets, but during 14 seasons in the NBA he also played for the Washington Bullets, Golden State Warriors and the Toronto Raptors.
Monday also happened to be Muggsy’s 47th birthday, and Senator Warner led the kids in a spirited version of “Happy Birthday.”
Each member of the congressional delegation wore jackets representing their local NBA teams, and Senator Warner wore a red Washington Wizards warm-up jacket.