Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today reports:

The NBA’s goal is to make basketball the second-most popular sport in India behind cricket. Encouraging signs point to that possibility, especially with the growth of India’s middle class and an economy not hit hard by recession.

“It’s a very big priority for the NBA,” said Heidi Ueberroth, president of NBA International. “It is a long-term view, but we do expect rapid growth.”

The National Council of Applied Economic Research reports India’s high-income households will surpass the number of low-income households this year for the first time, with 62% considered middle class.

“Every single metric you look (at), people are looking for more entertainment options and sporting options,” Ueberroth said.

Making the most of this, she said, begins with infrastructure and grass-roots efforts — providing access to courts and creating chances to play organized ball.