A 1936 founding member of FIBA Asia, India has one of Asia's longest basketball traditions. Throughout its history, Team India qualified for the FIBA Asia Championship 24 times and is placed in the top-5 in appearances in this tournament. Further, India's basketball team won three gold medals and one silver medal at the South Asian Games. Team India celebrated its most recent title at the 2014 Lusofonia Games after they finished the tournament with a 4-0 record and beat Angola in the final.
India appeared at the international stage for the first time ever at the 1965 Asian Basketball Championship where it started out as moderately competitive. Khushi Ram who captained the Indian team stood as second best scorer at the 1965 Asian Basketball Championship and even in 1967 and 1969 Asian Championship as well. In the following years, India became a regular at the event and had their most successful tournament in 1975 when the team even reached the final four.
Plagued by a lack of popularity and support for basketball at home, at times, India faded into oblivion and only had a handful of successful performances. Its most noteworthy tournament appearance was at the 1980 Summer Olympics when the team got its chance to represent Asia due to the cancellations of some teams who took part in the American-led boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympics. A few of the world's top basketball powers at that time (such as the United States and Canada) withdrew from the tournament. India finished 12th out of 12 in the Olympics after getting knocked out in the Preliminary Round by losing all three of their matches and then losing all five of their matches in the Classification round.
While the results did not go India's way one game in particular caught the attention of basketball fans worldwide. India played against the Australian Team, one of the world's top basketball teams. India, which was made up solely of voluntary basketball players competed against the elite team of Australia for almost the whole game until it finally ceded to the Boomers 75-93 after leading at halftime 41-37.
Many Indian players also made headlines while in the Soviet Union as well. Ajmer Singh gained worldwide attention as he was amongst the top 10 shooters there and became the 10th best pivot player in the tournament there.
The late 90s saw the emergence of Sozhasingarayer Robinson, the first Indian basketball player who gained considerable international attention. Robinson led India to a surprising victory over South Korea, one of Asia's top teams. Later, he became the first Indian player ever to get a contract offer from another continent when he signed for Negar sang Sharekord in Iran.
In 2005, however, Robinson complained that the structure and support for basketball in India was still mediocre and government officials did not do enough to support the sport. As a protest, he retired from the national team.
At the 2011 FIBA Asia Championship India was coached by former Sacramento Kings head coach Kenny Natt. Further, for the first time ever, India had its own strength and conditioning coach. Even though the team lost most games, its performance against Lebanon, which had made it to the final four at the previous tournament, superseded expectations.
In 2012, former NBA D-League and U.S. college coach, Scott Flemming, took over the team. Under his supervision, the team won the South Asia Championship in 2014. India had two wins and finished 3 places higher (11th) in the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship than in 2011. In 2014, the Young Cagers (as team India is often nicknamed) won the Lusofonia games with wins over Guinea-Bissau, Cape Verde, and Angola in the gold medal game. This was Team India's first title ever against non-Asian competition. In the 2014 FIBA Asia Cup India pulled off the biggest win in their 80-year history by defeated China on their home court 65-58. The establishment of a professional league will be a major step in continuing this recent success the Indian team has experienced. In 2011, plans for the establishment thereof were officially agreed upon.