Canadian broadcasters call NBA Finals in Punjabi for first time in league history
While all eyes were watching the Raptors make team history on the court, a different kind of history was being made in one of the broadcast booths at the Oracle Arena.
Parminder Singh and Preet Randhawa broadcast the NBA Finals in Punjabi for the first time in the league’s history, breaking barriers and accomplishing a life-long goal.
“This is incredible, I can’t even put into words the emotions,” said Singh.
Singh’s and Randhawa’s voices were heard around the world as they called Game 4 in Oakland between the Golden State Warriors and Toronto Raptors.
Singh said the pair were approached by the NBA to call the games as part of the league’s internal global broadcast network.
Their culturally diverse calls, with phrases like “masala!” were offered up to the millions of viewers around the world through the league’s television network, called NBA League Pass. It also aired on NBA digital streaming platforms, which reached India and other south Asian countries.
But it took the duo a long time and a lot of hard work to get to what they believe may be the pinnacle of their careers.
“So this is 10 years in the making,” said Singh. “The first time we called a game in Punjabi, it was called in 2009 when the Raptors broadcast was actually covered by CBC.
“CBC had Sunday afternoon games. But since then, CBC had not had any games. We hadn’t called any games in Punjabi.”
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Singh put his dream to call basketball aside and chased his passion for another sport by being one of the first on-air contributors to Hockey Night in Punjabi on CBC.
That sparked a lot of success and gained traction with the thousands of Canadian viewers who enjoyed watching the NHL in Punjabi.
And then in 2019, out of the blue, the dream was alive again.
“We got a call from the league and the NBA said: ‘Listen, so we want you to be a part of our global outreach for us,'” said Singh.
“That includes India, so they’re going to India early next season for a couple of games there which is the first time that’s going to happen.”
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The duo called their first game of the 2019 playoffs during Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Raptors and the Milwaukee Bucks.
Singh said it was enough of a success that they were asked to come back for the rest of the series and then call the NBA Finals.
“The amount of excitement that any sports fan would have and get the call to be able to call the games, it’s incredible,” said an excited Singh.
With the NBA’s growing international reach, Singh hopes the view he gets of the NBA Finals from the broadcast booth becomes a regular one for years to come.
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