Siddarth Sharma - sidbreakball

Basketball Nets for Change - A Netmaker’s thoughts on NBA’s initiative and how Stephen Curry aims

Published on
February 1, 2024

Nets for Change is about taking something that’s been discarded and forgotten, something that’s suffocating marine life. And turning that into something beautiful. It’s not a story about the Brooklyn Nets looking for a roster upgrade before February’s trade deadline as I first thought. 

Ghost Nets are the fishing nets that have been abandoned or lost in the ocean, silent killers of the marine ecosystem. Trapping and choking marine life, smothering coral reefs, damaging boats, the list goes on. They are the silent killers of our oceans.

The NBA has come up with an initiative to serve two purposes together in association with Publicis Communications, MEA. To fish out those nets with the local diving and fishing communities, and repurpose them as basketball nets to be installed across neglected basketball courts in India. They also organised local basketball games to educate communities about the importance of keeping the ocean clean, with an aim to implement this action across India and the world.

The Nets for Change logo has fishes swimming as part of a net. We’ve all played on basketball courts with no nets on the rings. It’s a hollow feeling with no swish without nets. We’ve come a long way from peach crates and iron hoops over a century ago. What started off as a functional equipment to help stop the ball from rolling away, ended up giving us string music played on swishes.

We know and can connect with the many ways in which cleaning up Ghost nets can help save our oceans, here’s a bit more about what makes basketball nets so special, along with the perspective of an Indian basketball netmaker about his appreciation for this initiative.

A Netmaker’s perspective

In the winter of December 2022, Atal Bihari Vajpayee Multipurpose Indoor Hall, Udaipur was playing host to the 72nd National Basketball Championship. This was the 2nd nationals I was photographing, I had an 85mm prime lens and the majority of the pictures I got were from the sidelines with the nets clearly in frame. 

One trick of the trade, if you’re looking to photograph basketball and capture a dunk or a layup, you might lose focus on the player while they drive and elevate at the rim. Sometimes, I like to lock focus on the net and fire away so that the right spot in the air is in focus. 

While focusing on the nets, I couldn’t get enough of the traditional knots at the end of the net. They gave it a distinctive Indian touch and looked poetic when shots swished in. Ranu Menariya, a player from Rajasthan team, told me that they are made by RR Neto Philia.

“The nets would usually get torn at the basketball courts we played at. My brother thought, why not create a net with a thick rope. He studied the nets to learn how to make them. The signature knots at the bottom of the nets, they occur naturally when we create them. That sound when we hit a perfect shot, a shot that doesn’t touch the ring, it’s so pure.” - Rajesh Menaria of RR Neto Philia.

Each net takes them about 2-3 hours to create by hand. Their page is named RR Neto Philia, after their parents Radheshyam and Rukmani. (no connection to Raul Neto, the Brazilian point guard who played for the Cleveland Cavaliers).

Rajesh spoke about the NBA’s initiative to clean up oceans and install nets in basketball courts in India. “If someone is staying in a frozen place, they may need to depend on catching fishes. We don’t need to see so many fishes die cruelly. Even they may think, ‘You’re a human, you’ve come into this world to live. So have I.’  India has so much land, we can cultivate so many crops from the earth. This is a very good initiative by the NBA to clean up the oceans. ” - Rajesh.

“We once got a special request to add ghungroo at the end of the nets. It really sounded so nice when we make a pure shot. We installed this net in our ground.” - Rajesh.

Each custom net costs about Rs 999. You can connect with RR Neto Philia at 9509282300 to order yours and you also might get free delivery.

How Stephen Curry, the greatest shooter, aims with nets’ hooks

Basketball nets and the hooks they hang by aren’t just for decorative purposes. The greatest shooter of all time actually uses the net rings to aim. “I read that Stephen Curry has blurred vision. So much respect for him for all that he’s accomplished in spite of that, he’s become such an amazing shooter. I heard he also aims where we tie the net. I wear specs, and when I aim to shoot the basketball, I usually take aim by looking at the net and keeping it at the centre of my aim.” - Rajesh.

Curry aligns his shot by focusing on the hooks at the bottom of the rim. Those are the hooks that we loop the net into. “There are always three hooks that are facing you, no matter where you are on the court. That’s almost the width of the basketball."- said Curry.

Curry has Keratoconus, it's a condition causing a thinning of the cornea, which bends into a cone shape. Curry deals with it by wearing contact lenses. “ I have blurry vision like millions of people across the country. When you go have that experience when you experience what 20-20 vision is, it’s pretty crazy. Like a camera lens when you put it in focus and see clearly. It’s an adjustment. Over time, your eyesight gets worse. But you still go out and find a way to function. I had a situation where you get used to what it looks like and adjust.”

It is too difficult to spot the ball in the center of the hoop from long-range. The hooks, however, provide an exact, clear target for Curry to spot. “It also promotes better arc because I know I have to get it up in the air to get it on my target. That’s what your eyes are looking at.”

Nets and the hooks they hang on may be the clearest target basketball players use to aim their shots. You can also get Decathlon's Tarmak nets here for Rs 199.

From the seas, for the Indian basketball community

Nets are deeply personal. They serve a function, drive us to play string music with swishes, and help players aim their shots. With this initiative, we’ll see more basketball courts across India adorned with nets that stand as a symbol of small steps to save our ocean life.

Ghost Nets aren’t what could have been with Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden playing more than 20 games together on the Brooklyn Nets. Ghost Nets are silent killers of our oceans. Each net can claim hundreds of marine life. Each net cleaned up, is a step that counts.

We may be in the 4th quarter of life on earth as we know it. Unless we act together to save the planet, when the buzzer sounds, we won’t be left with one. Every step counts.

From the seas, for the Indian basketball community. Breathing new life into the oceans, one hoop at a time. 

Siddarth Sharma - sidbreakball

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