Basketball is a prominent sport in India, with a multi-tiered professional club league structure and national teams for men and women. Over the previous few years, the Indian basketball squad has achieved great progress. Despite the fact that basketball has grown in popularity in India over the last decade, thanks in large part to the NBA's attempts to expand its market in the country, there has been little interest in the sport. Due to the Indian basketball team's inability to create an impact on the international scene, exposure and spotlight have been limited as well. However, talented hoopsters have raised the bar for Indian basketball in the little opportunities they've had.
Even as global basketball moves into an era of advanced data, player tracking, and tangible numbers to compare players—not to mention an assessment of their total historical accomplishments—India remains in the shadows. The majority of statistical data is passed down through word of mouth. Rather than actual proof, stories and spectator testimonies have often been used to define greatness. In India, there has never been a full-fledged professional league. So, without further ado, here are the players we believe to be the best Indian basketball players of all time.
Robinson was a standout athlete and one of the first Indian athletes to play professionally abroad, having been born in Puducherry, raised in Gujarat, and eventually excelling for Tamil Nadu. Robinson first gained international recognition when he led India to a surprising victory over South Korea in the 2004 FIBA Asia Stankovic Cup, with Robinson scoring 36 points. South Korea was a frequent rival for the crown at international competitions in Asia. His performances were so good that he was offered contracts to play with Negar Sang Sharekord and Farsh Mashad in Iran. Aside from his work with the TN State team, Robinson played for IOB (Chennai) and afterwards the Indian Army.
9. Vishesh Bhriguvanshi
Vishesh was most recently a player with the Adelaide 36ers of the National Basketball League (NBL) and was granted the Arjuna Award by the Government of India for the year 2020. Bhriguvanshi joined the Adelaide 36ers of the Australian National Basketball League on a one-year training deal on July 7, 2017, becoming the league's first Indian player. Vishesh has represented India in every major FIBA Asia Championship since 2008, when he helped India win a 3x3 basketball gold medal at the Asian Beach Games. With Indian Railways, he has won three national championships.
8. Amjyot Singh
He is the most recognisable face of basketball in India for the present generation. Amjyot Singh Gill, who made his international debut at the age of 18, has built a name for himself among Indian basketball's elite echelons. The Chandigarh native was a key member of Team India at the 2014 FIBA Asia Cup, as they defeated hosts China for the first time in their history. Amjyot Singh Gill was busy plying his trade in Japan's BJ Summer League in the summer of 2015 when he signed a deal with Tokyo Excellence, a Japanese D-League team. The Indian hoopster was on his way to the United States a few years later, where he was drafted into the NBA D-League in 2017.
7. Amritpal Singh
At the 2011 FIBA Asia Championship, Singh made his debut for the Indian national team. Since then, he has participated in the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship, 2014 FIBA Asia Cup, 2015 FIBA Asia Championship, 2016 FIBA Asia Challenge, 2016 FIBA Asia Champions Cup, and 2017 FIBA Asia Cup. Amritpal Singh joined Tokyo Excellence of Japan's National Basketball Development League in August 2015. He helped Tokyo Excellence win the 2015–16 NBDL Championship in March 2016. Singh signed with the Sydney Kings for the 2017–18 NBL season on August 30, 2017, making him the first Indian-born player to sign with an Australian NBL team. He averaged 2.1 points and 1.4 rebounds per game in 24 games.
6. Satnam Singh
Satnam Singh's ascent to prominence has seen him become a national star, and he is arguably the biggest name in Indian basketball in recent years. He's even the subject of a Netflix documentary called One In A Billion. But it was in 2015 that Singh made history by becoming the first (and only) Indian to be drafted into the NBA. He was selected 52nd overall by the Dallas Mavericks. He never made the Mavs' roster after the Summer League, although he did spend two seasons with the G-Texas League's Legends. Since then, he has also spent a season with the St. John's Edge of the National Basketball League of Canada.
5. Sajjan Singh Cheema
Sajjan competed for India at the Asian Games in 1982, as well as various international events and matches, including the Asian Basketball Championships in 1981, 1983, and 1985. In 1999, he received the Arjuna Award, and in 1983, he received the Maharaja Ranjit Singh Award. He began his career as an Andhra Pradesh player before moving on to represent Punjab for more than a decade. In 1994, he announced his retirement from the game.
4. Gulam Abbas Moontasir
Moontasir made his international debut against Australia in an exhibition match in Mumbai in 1960. In 1964, he represented India in the quadrangular in Colombo, and in 1969 and 1975, he captained the Indian team at the Asian Basketball Championships in Bangkok. Moontasir also competed in the 10th Anniversary Confederation Tournament in Manila and was a member of the Indian team that competed at the 1970 Asian Games in Bangkok. In 1970, he was named to the Asian All-Star squad. He was the first Indian basketball player to win the Arjuna Award, which he got in 1970.
3. Ajmer Singh
Ajmer Singh, one of India's most talented hoopers, was the top player in the country's first (and only) Olympic basketball debut, in Moscow in 1980. Despite the fact that India lost all seven of their games, Ajmer stood out. He finished the competition as one of the top scorers. At the 1982 Asian Games, he was the tournament's best scorer two years later. During the earlier "golden age" of basketball in the 1970s and 1980s, Ajmer was renowned as an unstoppable scorer who was the country's top option. He won eight gold medals in 22 consecutive national championships for Haryana, Rajasthan, and Railways. He was awarded the Arjuna Award in 1982.
2. Hanuman Singh
Hanuman Singh competed in the Asian Games, Commonwealth Games, and the 1980 Olympics representing India. In 1975, he received the Arjuna Award. Rathore was a key member of Team India's renowned squad that competed in the 1980 Olympics in Moscow, the only time India has competed in an Olympic basketball event. In a loss against Czechoslovakia, he had his best game, dishing out 10 assists. After retiring, he remained on the fringe of Indian basketball in various roles, notably as a selector for India's national teams.
1. Khushi Ram
Known as Asia's "scoring machine," Khushi Ram was a highly sought-after player during his prime. Khushi Ram is known as one of the best players in the country's history, as well as one of Asia's top talents in his time. Khushi Ram led the Armed Forces to ten consecutive national titles and numerous ‘best player' accolades at competitions by relying on his shooting abilities. Ram was a key member of India's national squad from 1964 to 1972, and he captained the team at the Asian Basketball Confederation Championship in Malaysia in 1965. India came in seventh place in the competition. At the championship, he had the highest score. Khushi Ram finished second and third in the Asian championships the next two years, in 1965 and 1969, respectively. In 1970, he dominated the 10th Anniversary Celebrations Championship in Manila, scoring 43 points against the hosts Philippines (the highest by an Indian in an international). Kushi Ram received the Arjuna Award in 1967 and had a statue erected in his village in Haryana following his death.