The success of the NBA has led to a new project for Commissioner Adam Silver. The Africa League is set to begin play next season. Just how will this league work and what is the potential for this new venture?
The NBA’s popularity around the globe is profound. In fact, it is the only real sport that challenges soccer for the globe’s top sport. With so much success under their belts, it is only natural for the NBA and Commissioner Silver to test the waters in other places. And he couldn’t have picked a better spot.
For years, Africa has produced some amazing players. Guys like Joel Embiid, Luc Mbah a Moute, and Pascal Siakam are the most recent crop of talent to play in the NBA. Of course, no list is complete without mentioning some of the game’s pioneers. African greats like Hakeem “The Dream” Olajuwon, Dikembe Mutombo, and the late Manute Bol were some of the first to light the league up. However, these guys were much more than icons on the floor.
What truly separates these guys from other stars in the league is their work off the court. For example, Mbah a Moute holds basketball camps in his native Cameroon every year to inspire the youth and allow them to learn about basketball. As a matter of fact, Joel Embiid fell in love with the game because of this camp a decade ago. Siakam, also a native of Cameroon, found the same inspiration as his predecessors. However, the likes of Mutombo and Bol set the precedent for what we see today.
Through the work of Basketball Without Borders, Africa has really blossomed with talent. Alongside the work of many NBA stars, basketball is indeed a huge presence in Africa. Camps alone are not the only influence. Work through the NBA Cares program and the annual Africa game are among other factors of influence. With the NBA and its stars, Africa has something to be proud of here.
The NBA has truly put a lot of work into being a presence in Africa. With an office in South Africa and a basketball academy in Senegal, hoops are aiming to stay here for a long time. A new opportunity to grow the sport also has other benefits. For example, this is a new economic opportunity for both Africa and the game of basketball. It is also an opportunity to spread the game across the continent and introduce the fundamentals of hoops.
Indeed, Africa is no slouch in the basketball community. With rules and regulations coming from FIBA, basketball’s international governing body, the stage is set for next season’s inauguration. However, how many teams will participate in this competition? Which countries will kick off the league? Let’s examine the upcoming Africa league in more detail.
How the league will work
Under the name “Basketball Africa League,” the BAL will start out with 12 teams. The featured teams will come from Angola, Egypt, Morocco, Kenya, Rwanda, Nigeria, Senegal, Tunisia, and South Africa. Each country will be allowed only two teams and will work under FIBA rules. To determine which teams will participate, an inaugural tournament will be held later on this year. Also, as a fun side note, former president Barack Obama will be involved. However, his role is yet to be determined. Obama, an avid lover of hoops, has some experience working with the NBA. He, alongside Raptors GM Masai Ujiri, has been working with the Giants of Africa youth basketball program. It’s safe to say he has been busy since his presidency ended in 2017.
With some great ambassadors at the NBA’s disposal, the BAL is set for a great start. This provides a means for many children to step out of trouble, grow among peers, and potentially make a great living playing professionally. How the league will do is yet to be seen. However, this is a great first step for the NBA to remind the world of its global reach.
What a time to be a fan of basketball. NBA fans now have more to look forward to. Besides, who can complain about more hoops? While there is more detail to come, the announcement of the BAL came at a perfect time. Now it is up to the NBA and its fans to really show some support.
As the Basketball League of Africa continues to develop, NGSC Sports will be there to keep you updated along the way. Stay tuned for more information on the BAL and other NBA news.
Until next time, basketball fans.
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