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Two Canadian Sikhs Parminder Singh And Preet Randhawa Voice NBA Finals In Punjabi For First Time

Darpan News Desk IANS, 13 Jun, 2019

    Two Canadian-Indian Sikhs, Parminder Singh and Preet Randhawa, were asked to voice the NBA Finals in Punjabi at the Oracle Arena.

     

    This has happened for the first time with the two making history and living their ultimate dream.

     

    “This is incredible, I can’t even put into words the emotions,” said Singh to Global News.

     

    A first for the league, the two Canadian-Indian Sikhs broadcast the championship series to 200 different countries.

     

    Growing up in Canada, Singh and Randhawa could never have imagined this would be their lives. The smiles on their faces might have to be to surgically removed as they recounted the moment the league called them to tell them the good news.

     

    "It was amazing," Randhawa told NBA.com. "Being basketball fans just growing up...and we grew up through the (Michael) Jordan era, the Magic Johnson years, Larry Bird and so forth - so you could just imagine as being Canadians we didn't even have a basketball team back then.

     

    "Nowadays you can try and figure out how to catch a game that's not being played in your area but with us, it was such a difficult time to keep on top (of the league). So the minute or seconds of highlights that used to appear on Canadian television is how we used to get our dose of basketball.

     

    "So we went through all that to where we finally had a team and to then get this call from the NBA it was like a dream come true. We were just talking...we're like pinching ourselves 'like is this for real'?

     

    "When we went to Oracle Arena - just walking down the same path as the players come out. Being (in Toronto) at the Scotiabank Arena and the atmosphere.

     

    "I think one thing that the NBA does so beautifully is that global outreach and we're so glad to be a part of that."

     
     
     
     

    But it took the duo a long time and a lot of hard work to get to what they believe may be the pinnacle of their careers.

     

    “So this is 10 years in the making,” said Singh. “The first time we called a game in Punjabi, it was called in 2009 when the Raptors broadcast was actually covered by CBC.

     

    “CBC had Sunday afternoon games. But since then, CBC had not had any games. We hadn’t called any games in Punjabi.”

     

    Singh put his dream to call basketball aside and chased his passion for another sport by being one of the first on-air contributors to Hockey Night in Punjabi on CBC.

     

    That sparked a lot of success and gained traction with the thousands of Canadian viewers who enjoyed watching the NHL in Punjabi.

     

    And then in 2019, out of the blue, the dream was alive again.

     

    “We got a call from the league and the NBA said: ‘Listen, so we want you to be a part of our global outreach for us’,” said Singh.

     

    “That includes India, so they’re going to India early next season for a couple of games there which is the first time that’s going to happen.”

     

    The duo called their first game of the 2019 playoffs during Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Raptors and the Milwaukee Bucks.

     

    Singh said it was enough of a success that they were asked to come back for the rest of the series and then call the NBA Finals.

     

    Singh and Randhawa are huge proponents of the growth of the game in India and they expect there to be more NBA prospects in the future.

     

    "Even when you go to India you go to a small little village, they have a basketball court and there are little kids playing there," Singh told NBA.com. "Now that we get the opportunity to take the game to them in their own language I think it's encouraging.

     

    "I think in the future we're going to see basketball players - I know we had Santam Singh, Sim Bhullar and a couple of others coming in but I think we're going to have a lot more growing up just because we can bring the game to them."

     

    And bringing the game to India is exactly what the league is doing. In October, the Sacramento Kings and Indiana Pacers will play not one but two exhibition games at the NSCI Dome in Mumbai. It will be the first time the NBA has played in India and the first games staged in the country by a North American sports league.

     

    "This is what we need," Randhawa said with a smile. "We were talking about (games in India) when we had a chance to meet Vivek Ranadive with the Sacramento Kings - and this was in 2016 when the All-Star game happened in Toronto.

     

    "We were talking about ways we can connect to the community, because he's got a huge Punjabi fan following, they do a Sikh night - a Punjabi night at the arena which is similar to our Superfan (Nav Bhatia) here who's helped us break down barriers and gave us an opportunity to be here.

     

    "Because people would look at us differently because we look different. So I think by that just mere fact that the NBA is going to have some games played in India...we certainly hope we're on that same plane calling those games in Punjabi but I think it will be amazing.

     

    "That would be the ice breaker. I think when you see - and one thing I think you'll realize is that Indians are so welcoming and they want to welcome you with open arms and the fact that the NBA is going to them, I think they will embrace the NBA.

     

    "And sorry to say but cricket fans out there, I think we're going to give you a run for your money."

     

    Singh and Randhawa are confident that there's room for basketball in India's sports lexicon. They've seen a similar explosion in popularity in the game they love in Canada where ice hockey rules supreme.

     

    With that explosion in popularity came more NBA players from Canada. The duo both agree that the two preseason games in Mumbai will only open the door for more Indians in the world's best basketball league.

     

    And one day they hope to see a turban player break barriers just as they have.

     

    "Once we get into these kinds of countries that have so much raw talent but lack resources we will be changing lives," Randhawa continued.

     

    "I think this is where the impact of the NBA will be felt.

     

    "We talk about this opportunity we got now but we also look at how can we give back, because that was very important to us that one day we want to see a turban player in the NBA on the court because the NBA believes so much in diversity and not discriminating against anyone.

     

    "It's all about what you can bring to the table and that's why we love this league so much and we think that it can do wonders in India."

     

    With inputs from in.nba.com

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