OAKLAND, CA - JANUARY 07: Monta Ellis #8 of the Golden State Warriors dribbles the ball while guarded by Raja Bell #19 and Al Jefferson #25 of the Utah Jazz at Oracle Arena on January 7, 2012 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Karan Madhok is an up and coming Basketball writer living in an up and coming country: India. He writes all over the place, most notably for Slam Magazine. (He recently did a piece of former Jerry Sloan assistant Kenny Natt -- who is the Indian men's national team head coach; more on this later)
Well, Karan just tweeted this:
What's Raja doing in India? He's wearing Jazz gear . . . what's going on with his buy out? And if he leaves, which team does he wish to join? Answers to all of this after the jump.
If you navigate to the FIBA website you DO see a picture of Raja Bell holding a camp in India.I guess being in India is a great way to slow down your own buy out. (If he was state side he probably would have had more time on his hands to return e-mails and talk with his agent) What's Raja doing in India? Well, I've always suspected that Bell, who has an Om tattoo on his arm and an Indian first name, may have had some ties to India. Being a West Indian kind of spoils the mystery for those who don't understand history (there are lots of Indo-Carribians around).
The other thing to notice here for those who have never traveled to India before - is that there is a lot of paper work involved. This was most likely a planned trip for Raja at the behest of the NBA that started months ago. Getting all the Visa work done and so forth . . . this wasn't a "hey, let's go to India for fun" deal. Raja is there to continue expanding the NBA brand there. They show NBA games on TV and every summer players are going over to India. Kevin Garnett went. Kyle Korver went. Rony Turiaf. Plenty of others. Stern sees this expansion as necessary because there is a LOT of money to make in the Indian market (google how many TVs, computers, and cell phones they have there).
So, we know WHY Raja is there. Selfishly it sucks for us because if he didn't have this mandatory camp he probably would have been bought out by now. I didn't hear any news about this from the SL Trib or DN. So I guess in terms of Utah sports news, SLC Dunk is breaking this story. (How do you feel about that, Jazz franchise?)
Of course, it's nice to see Raja returning to some of his roots. As a Florida Int'l NCAA player it's no surprise which team he is looking to go to after he is bought out though:
"The 35-year-old who donned the Utah Jazz colors during the 2011-12 NBA season, and is considering a move to reigning NBA champions Miami Heat for the next year, was in India as a part of the NBA India initiative and was present on hand in giving tips on defensive techniques to the Indian youngsters." - FIBA Asia (no name reported, but Karan speculates that it was by S. Mageshwaran.)
Have a fun trip to India, Raja. You deserve it. Keep rehabbing your image for the league so they'll condone your buyout with the Jazz - and let you join the Heat. You seem to be used to it - being West Indian, going to school in Florida, and now spending your summer in India (when it is hottest).
Thanks to Karan ( @Hoopistani ) for bringing this event to light. Best of luck to him, and to the Indian team in their Asian tournament coming up. And, of course, to Raja Bell. Hope you go somewhere you want to be.