Satnam Singh Bhamara: Trailblazer in Indian basketball now faces two years of doping ban

The 7-foot-2-inch centre from Balloke, Punjab, has represented India in major tournaments and created history after becoming the first Indian picked up for NBA and NBL.

Satnam Singh Bhamara has been a trailblazer in Indian basketball after he created history in 2015 when he was picked in the NBA draft by the Dallas Mavericks; the first Indian-born player to achieve that. This time, however, the 25-year old is in the news for failing a dope test, handing him a ban for two years.

The 7-foot-2-inch centre from Balloke, Punjab, has represented India in major tournaments like Asian Championships, 2018 Commonwealth Games, and 2019 World Cup Qualifiers.

Bhamara, in 2015, created history when he was picked in the NBA draft by Dallas Mavericks. Satnam never quite got a go with the Mavericks in the big league. Instead he spent most of his two years playing for their second-string team, Texas Legends, in the G-League. But there too, he wasn’t a regular, and averaged 7.1 minutes per game over 27 games averaging 1.5 points and 1.4 rebounds. He was then subsequently let go.

After returning to India for a year to focus on the national team, Bhamara once again created history in September 2018 by becoming the first India-born cager to play in the National Basketball League of Canada after signing a deal with St John’s Edge.

Satnam had been a key figure for the national team in the FIBA Asia World Cup qualifiers and was part of the team at the CWG, where India failed to reach the medal rounds. In six games of the qualifiers, Satnam has scored 87 points with an average of 14.5 points per game and an average of 7.5 rebounds per game.

Netflix has made a documentary that traces Satnam’s journey from the Ludhiana academy to his days in Florida and also features his father 7’3” tall Balbir Singh Bhamara, NBA commissioner Adam Silver, Sacramento Kings Indian-born owner Vivek Ranadiv and NBA’s senior director of international operations Troy Justice, who first spotted Satnam and Ludhiana coach Teja Singh Dhaliwal.

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