Siri Fort Sports Complex: Delhi’s Ultimate Basketball Destination

Siri Fort Sports Complex: Delhi’s Ultimate Basketball Destination Court Chronicles

It’s 6 pm on a hot summer evening and the two basketball courts are teeming with children. The little ballers are in the middle of an intense scrimmage with seemingly a lot at stake: the winning team gets to watch the losing side run ‘German drills’. As the frenetic last moments are being played out, a large group of spectators has already assembled along the sidelines. These ‘spectators’ are in fact ballers too, only much older, who are impatiently waiting for the clock to strike 6:30 pm.

The above scene plays out on any given weekday at the Siri Fort Sports Complex in New Delhi.

A Court Like No Other

Situated in the heart of South Delhi, at a walking distance from the Green Park Market and Delhi’s first mall, Ansal Plaza, Siri Fort is one of the most accessible basketball courts in the national capital. “Siri Fort isn’t just well located, but also has a great environment to play in. I have been playing there for years and there are a whole lot of people, who have grown up playing on these courts,” says Moqierish Tak, a regular among the women ballers at Siri Fort.

Siri Fort is easily the most popular basketball venue in the nation’s capital. Ask any basketball player in Delhi about Siri Fort, chances are they’ve either heard about it or played there at least once.The two synthetic courts, one blue, one green, surrounded by trees and greenery have achieved iconic status in the National Capital Region (NCR). Top school and college level players compete here alongside national and even international level players, who flock to the venue regularly.

Sports Complex in Delhi

The complex charges a rather exact entry fee of just Rs. 56 for an entire day. And this, coupled with its easy accessibility, has also made Siri Fort the venue of choice for an array of school, college and corporate level private tournaments.

Formally inaugurated by the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) in 1989 and located right next to the Asian Games village, the Siri Fort Sports Complex was the first multi-sport complex of its kind that was opened to the public in NCR. The complex boasts numerous facilities for tennis, badminton, hockey and cricket, apart from billiards and snooker tables, a shooting range, swimming pool and a golf range, to name a few.

Fighting For Playing Time

Once the little kids have run their last drill, the court is immediately swarmed by the older lot, in an early attempt to ‘book’ a half court. By around 7 pm, the two courts are teeming with people warming up, shooting jumpers and attempting fancy layups while discussing the latest NBA gossip. Thanks to the sheer volume of players, full court games are virtually impossible.So 3×3 or 4×4 matches are played on each of the four half courts. But even with such accommodative measures, more often than not, there are many who are still left out, and are forced to return home dejected without having had the chance to play.

Siri Fort Sports Complex

The style of play itself at Siri Fort is unique. Three-pointers reign supreme, and even the most unassuming player is more than capable of draining jumpers from well beyond the arc. Dribbling is flashy, with fancy crossovers, behind-the-back passes and spin moves. Athletic players utilize an array of reverse moves and up-and-under layups to score.

All these factors considered, basketball at Siri Fort is the closest Indian equivalent of the playground style of hoops made globally popular by the famous Rucker Park. Situated in the heart of New York City (Harlem, Manhattan), the outdoor court at Rucker Park is considered to be the epitome of playground basketball. It has hosted NBA legends like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Kobe Bryant, Julius Erving and Wilt Chamberlain along with streetball legends like “Jumpin” Jackie Jackson and Earl “The Goat” Manigault. Likewise, most of India’s top players have balled at Siri Fort at least once, whether it’s the mercurial TJ Sahi from the present generation of stars or Jayasankar Menon from the previous era.

International Melting Pot

Interestingly, Siri Fort also provides the opportunity to compete with and against many foreign nationals, who are a regular sight at the complex. This melting pot includes players from African nations, the Far East, Middle East, Europe and of course, the US. All these ballers proudly wear their nationalities on their sleeve and even come with their own cheering squads, making the half court games entertaining and loud, with an eclectic clash of styles, skills, temperaments, attires and differing playground philosophies.

Siri Fort Sports Complex

“It [Siri Fort] is universally known to be the best place to ball in South Delhi. Players are multi-cultural, coming from places with different personalities and tastes, with different types of game,” says Nicholas Daniel, a 6’ 8’’ player from the Republic of Congo, who regularly hoops at Siri Fort.

The floodlights allow pick up action to continue into the night. But at around 8:55 pm, a guard starts the regular whistle routine, a warning for the imminent blanking out of the lights. The ballers carry on with their games, undeterred. At 9 pm sharp (or 8:30 pm in the winters) the lights go out, and final buzzer-beaters are attempted. The winning teams often trash talk the losers as they all walk off the courts of Siri Fort into the night, only to meet again the next evening at this delightful hoops venue.

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