(DIYA TV) — Sports are undoubtedly an important faction of American culture — more folks tune into the Super Bowl each year than vote. With more than three million Indian Americans living in the United States, one of the country’s most progressive professional sports leagues is taking notice. Last month, three NBA teams — the Sacramento Kings, Orlando Magic and Philadelphia 76ers — continued annual traditions of hosting Indian-themed heritage nights. During the league’s all star weekend festivities in Toronto, commissioner Adam Silver said the NBA plans to start putting more effort into developing basketball in India.

The decision and attention could be shining brighter than ever because of Sacramento Kings owner, Vivek Ranadive —the TIBCO software became the first Indian owner in the league’s history, after he sold his ownership stake in the Golden State Warriors to buy a majority share 90 miles north in Sacramento. Before his arrival in Sacramento, Vivek began hosting annual ‘Bollywood Night’ themed games with the Warriors — in 2011, fans received commemorative t-shirts with the phrase, “Got Curry?” in honor of their franchise player, Stephen Curry.

Sacramento Kings' shooting guard Ben McLemore poses with Kings shirts in Hindi
Sacramento Kings’ shooting guard Ben McLemore poses with Kings shirts in Hindi

Though he’s moved on, the culture is much different now at Oracle Arena than when Vivek was part of the team — the waitlist for season tickets exceeds double-digits in the amount of years. Golden State are of course the defending NBA champions, and carry with them the now well known and reigning league MVP, Stephen Curry. This year’s edition of Bollywood Night will take place against the Utah Jazz on March 9.

When Vivek and the Kings hosted their Bollywood Night last month, Indian-origin Miss America Nina Davulari was in attendance. Players’ names were announced in Hindi during the pre-game ceremonies, and a scintillating introduction video to reach out to fans from Mumbai to Sacramento. The team’s dance team also donned Indian-themed attire, and even the Kings’ mascot, Slamson the lion.

Sacramento Kings' Bright Bollywood Night and Hindi Jerseys
Sacramento Kings’ Bright Bollywood Night and Hindi Jerseys

During the league’s first all star game to ever be held outside of the United States, commissioner Adam Silver said he was open to the idea of expanding the game internationally as its popularity continues to grow.

“The billion followers of the NBA on social media include many millions of our fans in India as well,” Silver said. “We have about a 10-person office in Mumbai, and we even have an owner, Vivek Ranadive, who was born in Mumbai. We have a relationship with the Reliance Foundation to work on grassroots basketball for boys and girls. We have a terrific television arrangement with the Sony Broadcasting Company in India, and we have plans to do even more.”

The NBA has traveled overseas in the past — in 1978, an exhibition game was played in Israel, and the league has since conducted 160 games internationally. “We continue to look at expanding the number of regular season and preseason games we play overseas. We just want to be very careful on how we approach it,” Silver said. “I certainly think it’s worked very effectively to play regular season games in London, building some time off for the players once they return. I think our preseason schedule has worked out very well in Asia and Europe.”

Silver recognizes the NBA is in a unique position to share its product — it is the only North American professional sports league which carries a significant following in Asia. League executives have already begun exploring the possibilities of playing exhibition games in Asia, Silver said.