Sim Bhullar made more history last week when he became the first player of Indian descent to score in an NBA game.
The 7 foot, 5 inch centre netted in Sacramento Kings’ 103-91 loss to the Utah Jazz, just a day after making his debut for Indian businessman Vivek Ranadive’s basketball franchise.
Bhullar, born in Canada to parents from Punjab, signed a 10-day contract for the Kings’ earlier this month from the Reno Bighorns, Sacramento’s affiliate in the NBA Development League.
He attended their pre-season training camp after first making his name in college basketball for New Mexico State University.
Last Tuesday (7), Bhullar made worldwide news when he made a 16-second debut in the 116-111 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves. Then against Utah, the 22-year-old prospect played another minute and 22 seconds.
After grabbing his first rebound, the 25 stone star scored with a turnaround hook shot with 18 seconds left to write another piece of history.
“It was a great feeling and I’m happy to be kind of an ambassador. This is just the beginning. I really think today was the moment, the big moment for me. There is a lot more to go and hopefully I get another chance like that soon,” Bhullar said.
“Hopefully more kids growing up will see there’s a player of Indian descent on the court. Then they can follow the game a bit more and grow a passion for it to pursue it in the future and we can get a couple more Indian NBA players.”
Bhullar trended on Twitter, with about 20,000 mentions on debut day. “I got a phone call and the first thing the person said was: ‘How does it feel to be the most popular person on Earth?’” he said.
“That’s what it feels like right now. All the emails are blowing up on my phone. I walked into the gym and my battery was at 95 per cent. I left after my workout and it was five per cent.”
“I’m just enjoying it right now. I don’t feel any pressure at all. I know there’s a lot of people – probably a billion people – watching the games. I’m just going to enjoy my time on the court and have fun right now.”
Bhullar though is adamant his new-found celebrity status won’t just be a short-term thing and wants to carve out a successful career in the sport.
“When I was driving to the arena for my first game I was thinking just how far I made it with all the hard work that I put in. In the dressing room, I had this great feeling of getting dressed and putting the uniform. It’s an amazing feeling,” he added.
“I think my game’s really at its peak right now. I’m ready to go out there and show what I have.”