More Than a Game: The NBA in Tibet

More Than a Game: The NBA in Tibet

On any given day on the vast Tibetan Plateau you will find nomads herding their yak and sheep and monks reciting mantras. You will also find them playing one of their favorite sports: Basketball.

Here in Amdo basketball courts are found in every village and monastery, a game of passion and community that brings together not only Tibetans from all across the Plateau, but now players from around the world.

Norlha has hosted several international tournaments over the years, and this season was proud to host its first annual Sagadawa Invitational. Norlha invited some of the best teams in the region to compete alongside international players, including former NBA player Steve Hawes.

Tibetan teams included two all-star squads made up of the top players in Kanlho, the mighty monks of Labrang, the prefectural university team made up of Chinese students, Norlha's own team, and teams from neighboring Sichuan and Qinghai, one of who's captain is one of Tibet's most famous singers, Sherten.

Although there are no other known Tibetan women's teams in the region to play against as of yet, the Norlha women's team played a competitive game against the Norlha guards.

Teams shared meals, had Q&A's, played competitive games and contests, performed songs, and received an instructional clinic from Coach Steve, teaching what he has learned after 10 years playing in the NBA.

Norlha looks forward to its next tournament in September, coinciding with a local Laptse festival. This tournament will introduce wheelchair basketball to the region, bringing in some of the best wheelchair basketball players from around the world.