Obama Is Working With The NBA To Bring A Basketball League To Africa
The sport’s global governing body FIBA and NBA are expanding professional basketball to the African continent.
February 19, 2019 at 7:31 pm
President Barack Obama is partnering with the NBA for the launch of the Basketball Africa League which is set to kick off in January 2020.
“I hope you know through sport, that if you put in effort, you will be rewarded,” Obama said on the video shown during the league's announcement on Saturday. “I hope you learn through sports what it means to play as a team, and even if you are the best player, your job is not just to show off but your job is to make your teammates better.”
He also further detailed his excitement stating he's "always loved basketball" and is "glad to see this expansion into Africa," in a tweet.
I’ve always loved basketball because it’s about building a team that’s equal to more than the sum of its parts. Glad to see this expansion into Africa because for a rising continent, this can be about a lot more than what happens on the court. https://t.co/lghcLaUN9a— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) February 16, 2019
Former NBA player Michael Jordan, as well as Pepsi and Nike's Jordan Brand, will have direct involvement in the league, although the specifics of those details have not been revealed.
The collaboration will include both financial support, infrastructure and training for players, coaches and referees for the continued sustainability of the league on the African continent. The Associated Press reported that there are 438 companies in Africa which generate more than $1 billion in revenue annually.
Qualification tournaments will be held later this year to determine the club teams. Angola, Egypt, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa and Tunisia are just some of the African countries set to take part in the league. Each nation will be limited to having no more than two teams participating in the league.
Since 2015, the NBA has held three games in South Africa which all sold out. Two games were hosted in Johannesburg and one in Pretoria. Many of the league’s current players and coaches, along with several legends and Hall of Famers, including Kareem Abdul-Jabaar, have taken part on these international trips.
“I went with them last year,” Basketball Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar said. “The NBA reaches out across the world.”
Commissioner of the NBA Adam Silver said there has been "tremendous reception" for the league from many NBA team owners.
"Several of the partners of the NBA have expressed a strong desire to work with us in Africa,” Silver said.
Up until this announcement, the NBA has not been involved outside of North America.
“We’re excited to work closely with the NBA to develop and put in a place a professional league like none that we have ever seen in our region before,” said FIBA Africa Executive Director Alphonse Bile. “Through the Basketball Africa League, we can provide the many great clubs and players with the best possible environment to compete for the highest stakes.”
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