The Indian-American referee has prior experience of officiating in the G League
It is not always that you can associate India with basketball and the NBA. In 2015, Satnam Singh Bhamara got drafted and picked by the Dallas Mavericks as the first Indian basketball player in the league. However, such instances have been few and far between for the Indian basketball community to cheer about.
But, recently with the start of the new season, the NBA promoted three referees to a full-time role and among them was Indian-origin official, Suyash Mehta. He also created history by becoming the first person of Indian-origin to achieve the feat.
Mehta, who currently hails from Baltimore, Maryland was included in the roster for the new season which started on Tuesday, with the Brooklyn Nets defeating the Golden State Warriors in the curtain-raiser.
Indian roots & officiating experience in G League
It is understood that Mehta’s parents are from India and they moved to the United States back in the 1980s. Young Suyash grew up playing basketball and from there he developed a strong passion for the sport.
Before coming to the NBA, Mehta had prior officiating experience in the G League for five long seasons and considering his performances, the NBA handed him a promotion. He was also given a chance to officiate in the NBA last season, where he conducted 13 regular season matches as ‘non-staff official.’
Prior Coaching Stint
Before becoming a referee, Suyash Mehta also had coaching experience at collegiate level which includes various teams like Atlantic 10, Big South, Colonial Athletic Association, Conference USA, NCAA Division III and junior colleges. Therefore, Mehta has always been positive about making it big in the sport, either by being a coach or as a match referee.
In an official announcement made by the league, Mehta was one of three referees to be promoted as a full-time NBA official, alongside Simone Jelks and Andy Nagy.
“We are pleased to welcome Simone (Jelks), Suyash and Andy (Nagy) to our full-time staff,” said Monty McCutchen, NBA Senior Vice-President, Head of Referee Development and Training in a statement.
“They have demonstrated through the growth and the quality of their performance, they warrant working NBA games on a regular basis,” McCutchen added.
India does have a selective fanbase for the NBA. It may not be as big as that of some other sports in the country, but Suyash Mehta’s promotion to the big league may act as another reason why thousands of Indians will turn their attention to the sport.