OFF THE
BENCH

Stories of true passion that inspire every aspirant.

  Almost three years back I was shortlisted for my first Under 14 National Junior Championship but was held back. I cried real hard and practiced even harder-for no less than eight hours a day. I didn’t want to be left out for being a mediocre. Next year I presented my school team as the captain at the National Camp and won a bronze. For the first time, I tasted victory, earned with my own sweat. I improved at studies too because the game gave me the focus and discipline that was missing in my life. But had I given up that day I would’ve never made it to Jr. NBA and won a silver medal at Nationals, while being titled as the Most Valuable and Best Player of the tournament. Nor would I have known my real potential." #OffTheBench #RFJrNBA

  During the national finals at Goa, I had a knee injury. My parents brought me back home and warned me from playing further. Soon after I recovered, I hit the ground once again and played nationals. This time around my mother fell sick and was advised bed rest for six months. And because I couldn’t afford help, once again I was homebound, helping my mother with house chores. Finally when my mother regained her health, hesitantly I returned to the court. Now I’m playing for Jr. NBA and paying my tuition fee through a scholarship for outstanding sports students. Don’t let any obstacle, how big or small, kill your dreams. My parents are proud of me today and their appreciation echoes through the claps at the stadium." #OffTheBench #RFJrNBA

  I’m a 14-year-old baptized Sikh, who wears a headscarf to the court. That’s not a common practice in my community and I may be ostracized in the hearts of many. Well, I too learnt to play tabla (drums) in my recreational time, which I did enjoy but not as much as I enjoyed dribbling the ball. Sadly there was no basketball court in our school, let alone a coach. So I didn’t know what Basketball was or how it was played before I saw boys of our village play it at our common playground or on TV. On requesting our Guruji (head priest at the school temple), who himself is a sports enthusiast, we had a new coach arranged for us. He also bought us the track suits we’re wearing today. Rest of the time we’re robed in our traditional attire – salwar kameez. The women in our village still make comments seeing us girls running around in track pants but we don’t care because our families support us." #OffTheBench #RFJrNBA

  Basketball began as a diversion from the mockery I faced for being fat. I’m not going to lie but I have shed a tear over it. But I knew I had to get good at it. I practiced for hours, even put my grades at stake and made it to the junior NBA camp! But even now, I feel like I’m always going to be at a disadvantage for being unfit, and my dream to play for Chicago Bulls hearing people clamour my name, seems like a far-fetched idea. But Stephen Curry didn’t give up on his dream after Davidson lost in the NCAA Regional Finals against Kansas, and neither would I." #OffTheBench #RFJrNBA

  "My father was a national level athlete; he felt that I should make my career into basketball since I grew quite tall in the 6th grade. I wasn’t really interested in basketball then, but now, I am quite passionate about the game since I started to play it two years back. I was dying for this day, I really wanted to be a part of the Junior NBA camp, and the experience here was unprecedented! All the teachers and all the coaches are too, too supportive. It’s a very happy feeling just to be here and witness so much enthusiasm." #OffTheBench #RFJrNBA

  "I come from a conservative Muslim family. Right after the 7th standard, tragedy knocked my door, my coach passed away, her name was Zarin. Everybody around me has been trained by her and she was the key force in my life. After her death, there was no reason to the step out of the house. My father would ask me not to play. For about three years I couldn’t play the game. Right now, it’s all like a dream, even if I don’t make it to the selection today, I am just glad that I am getting to play. My coach inspired me when she was alive, and she inspires me even now, her determination is something I will never forget." #OffTheBench #RFJrNBA

  "We are a really small family, just a family of three - me, mom and a sister. Our financial situation is always tipsy; still, everybody encourages me to play. I dream of going ahead, becoming something really big, and studying along with it too. A poor background has never been a problem for me, in principle at least; my mother always supports my aspirations. I do lack the height if compared to other players, and it’s quite possible that my dreams may not really come true, but I just want to play without thinking about the future. Once I complete my education, I wish to be financially independent, while I continue to nurture my basketball dreams. And hopefully, if I keep playing; I might soon tower over other ballers." #OffTheBench #RFJrNBA

  I’m thin and short; not quite eligible to compete with the "big" guys. There were days when I was asked to simply observe the game. But I’ve been playing basketball since I was 6; they were telling off the wrong guy! I’m addicted to the adrenaline rush, and I can’t imagine my life without playing. I proved them wrong. I played well, and I haven’t stopped since. I fear the day I’d have to let go of the game, to pursue a ’normal’ career! #OffTheBench #RFJrNBA

  I remember watching basketball as a child on TV, although I did not really get the language. I used to watch all these foreign players, and I would always say to myself-I want to play this game, I will play this game.I would desperately pray for basketball to be a part of my school’s sports curriculum, and one day, my prayers were answered! I joined my school team and we started practicing in the common hall. We don’t have a court, neither a hoop. We’ve set up chairs elevated at a height equivalent to the hoop; and to score one has to put the ball through the chair. I come from a really poor background, so I’ve learnt to live with what I have.. We still have problems, but my family wants me to play, they say, if you want to play, just play! Though I do wish that a basketball court is built in my school someday. #OffTheBench #RFJrNBA

  For about two months when I managed to practice stealthily, I secured a position for myself at the zonal and district matches where I outperformed my competitors. I was thrilled but scared to bring the news to my folks. My coach who saw me standing at the crossroads offered to help me chase my only dream by convincing my family to let me play under his supervision. Then last year, I had a major shoulder injury playing Nationals. But I did recover and returned to the court even though it hurt to play, which I hid from my parents. I don’t advise you to follow that but do chase your dreams no matter how tough it gets. Although I didn’t have the same strength I had earlier, I didn’t stop practicing until I joined #RFJrNBA where I won the title for the Best Player of the tournament last year.” #OffTheBench

  I have played for some 4 times at the national level now. My mother was completely against the idea of me becoming a sports person. She would always say that there is nothing in sports; nobody achieves anything by pursuing sports in their life. On the contrary, my father has always supported my ambitions. It is because of him solely that I could come this far. Reaching the Nationals was instrumental in convincing my mom. Now she is happy with me. I want to become an international basketball player and also take up the role of a coach in the future!" #OffTheBench #RFJrNBA

  We thank everyone for sharing their basketball stories. We are truly overwhelmed by all the stories of female ballers out there. We found this story to be the most compelling one. Saiee Godbole, you are the winner on & off-the court! “It’s been exactly 6 years since I’ve been playing basketball. I have been dribbling and trying to shoot from even before. To me it’s not just a sport, it’s way beyond that. I’m emotionally connected to this game. So much so that nothing comes before it. My priority. My love. My religion. It’s not really been easy though. Where I played, hardly any girls came to play. It used to be all the college guys and a few grown ups. With all the taunts. And months of sitting out and just watching. Not being passed the ball to. Random rude comments and the inner politics, there came a time when I actually felt like giving up. I decided I wouldn’t go to play there anymore. I tried not to. But it was so hard. I just couldn’t let all these people affect me and my game. It was MY Game afterall. My life. It had always been so. And that breaking point was also a starting point for me. This sport has given me things that I am eternally thankful for. It’s my religion now. If there’s one day I’d want to die, it’d be the day I wouldn’t be able to play no more. Once a baller. Always a baller.” #OffTheBench

  My journey as a coach started just a few months back, and I feel so fortunate to be associated with NBA already. Back when I was a kid, fear was the tool teachers used to dominate and teach. But my coach brought a fun approach to the game, which I guess is how it really should be like. Basketball is about the fun, it cannot accommodate fear. I know I’m just 23, but all that I have learned from basketball, I would like to pass it on to the next generation. I hope this game grows, perhaps becomes more popular than soccer and cricket-and I am ready to give my all to accomplish this dream. And maybe someday the NBA will conduct its games here in India!"#OffTheBench #RFJrNBA

  I was playing ball a few months back in the evening. I made a jumpshot, landed real bad and pulled a hamstring. I ignored it then, but as luck would have it, I injured myself at the same spot two months down the line. I was told by the doctor that I cannot play for atleast a month. But the college selections were due in 5 days, a little strain on the hamstring can’t put me off! The court, the ball, the rim-I was gravitating towards them. And yes, in five days I was back on the court. Get this, if you are a true baller-you cannot stay away from the court. You have to play everyday. And that’s how I am here at these tryouts, despite the injuries!” #OffTheBench #ACGNBAJump

  I was going through a really low phase in my life two years back. Well this happened. I was giving my exams, and as I looked out of the window I could see the school team practising. I struggled to sit through the exams as the question kept haunting me-why didn’t they call me to join? When I did ask them-they were blunt...and frank. They told me I didn’t play well. I did shed a tear or two over it once I was home. But I swear to God, I have been unstoppable since. That incident propelled me to better my skills. Would you guess, two years later I was the school captain! The same guys came to me then and asked me if we could play. I just wagged my finger like Dikembe Mutombo and said, “Not in my house!” #OffTheBench #ACGNBAJump

  It all started back when my mom gifted me a basketball, something she regrets now. Well, my love for basketball inflated in a way she wouldn’t have imagined. I would play basketball for 6 hours a day, whereas I should have been studying for the same amount of time. I’m way too passionate about the sport now, call it my girlfriend if you please. What really excites me about this game is the challenges it puts me through. You have to work hard, be consistent, and real smart. You’ve got to constantly test yourself with ballers better than you, only then you realise where you stand on the skills-scale. It’s all about realising my weaknesses and then conquering them-that’s all that matters to me. I want to be the best. Period. In a cricket frenzy nation, I am glad there are initiatives like #ACGNBAJump for people who play basketball." #OffTheBench

3 Seconds

Violation in which an offensive player remains within the key for more than 3 seconds at one time.


3-Point Play

When a player is fouled but completes the basket and is then given the opportunity to shoot one free throw to convert the 3-point play.


Alley-Oop Pass

A pass thrown to a player who is running toward the basket. The second player leaps, catches the ball in midair and dunks it or lays it in before the player lands.


Assists

An assist is a pass that leads directly to a made basket for a teammate, therefore assisting in the completion of the scoring play. An assist can be awarded for a pass to an open teammate on the perimeter for a jumpshot, a fast break pass to a teammate for a layup, a pass to a teammate in the low post that leads to a score and plenty of other game situations.


Backboard

The board that the basket is attached to. Usually made of fiberglass or wood. In the NBA, the backboard is 6 feet wide and 3 1/2 feet high.


Bank Shot

A shot aimed at the backboard, so the ball will bounce into the basket.


Baseline

The line at each end of the court, under each basket.


Baseline Out-of-
Bounds Play

A play used to return the ball to court from the baseline. The team with the ball has 5 seconds to pass the ball inbounds to a teammate.


Basket

Rim and net attached to backboard. Also means a successful shot.


Block/Blocked Shot

A block occurs when a defensive player deflects a shot attempt of an offensive player resulting in a missed shot. The defender must block the shot while the ball is traveling upward towards the basket. After the ball reaches its peak and begins to move downward toward the basket, if a defender touches the ball, then goaltending is called and the basket counts.


Block/Spot on
the Court

The block is a spot on the lane line near the basket that is used to line up for free throws. There are 2 blocks near each basket. The block is also used as a location on the court in which coaches will ask their players to position themselves on.


Bounce Pass

A pass thrown by a player to a teammate that bounces on the floor.