Even as the odds were stacked against the Denver Nuggets, Vasisht Krishna Neti was backing the Mile High City team to beat LA Clippers in the Game 7. Little did Neti know that he would be cheering for his favourite team as a virtual fan for this all-important game.
The 10-year old from Bengaluru was one of the four Indian youths to experience the game as a virtual fan.
Along with Neti, Kairav Sharma and Parnika Srivastava from Noida and Prathmesh Singh from Delhi were given this experience, something none of them could imagine when they signed up for the NBA Basketball Schools.
The NBA's virtual fan experience for the 2019-20 NBA season allows fans to appear live on the "Michelob ULTRA Courtside" 17-foot video boards surrounding the court. Those fans can digitally interact with each other throughout the game by removing fans from their individual backgrounds and bringing them together in a shared visual space that will be seen through the broadcast and in the venue.
The Neti house was unusually noisy on Wednesday as their youngest member vociferously backed his team through the game holding a banner that said, 'Let's Go Denver, Love from India'. "I was on unmute the whole time during the game, cheering as loud as I could," said the young cager from Gear Innovative International School.
On the other hand, Srivastava was heartbroken since she was rooting for the Clippers. But that didn't dampen her spirits. "This was one of my best mornings ever," exclaimed the class 10 student of Delhi Public School. The one thing both Neti and Srivastava couldn't stop raving about was how they could clearly hear the coaches talk to the players. "It gave me goosebumps to hear them," said Neti.
As Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic led Nuggets to an emphatic 104-89 win over LA Clippers to make it to their first Western Conference finals in 11 years, it was also an ecstatic moment to witness the historic achievement virtually for the four youth.
"I woke up early and was super excited for the game. I literally saw the players training before the game and was constantly cheering for LA Clippers. And the best part was that the platform gave me an opportunity to cheer harder for the Clippers when Nuggets players took free throws," said Neti.
The NBA Basketball School is a network of tuition-based basketball development programs around the world open to international male and female players ages 6-18. Earlier this April, the NBA introduced online sessions for the NBA Basketball Schools network to keep youth active during this lockdown. This opportunity is yet another testament to how the NBA's basketball development programs in India are not only focused on imparting knowledge about the sport but also find ways to create platforms on which the students can attain the most premium experience of the sport.
( With inputs from ANI )
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