NBA, FIBA, With President Obama, Marketers, Plan Basketball Africa League
Sunday, February 17, 2019 at 06:58PM
NYSportsJournalism.com in Basketball Africa League, FIBA, NBA, NBA, President Obama, sports marketing

By Barry Janoff

February 16, 2019: Stating that the continent has a “huge economic engine,” to develop the game of basketball, the NBA and FIBA, the world governing body for basketball, have unveiled plans to form a 12-team pro league in Africa.

Although the NBA has a footprint worldwide, this would be its first direct involvement with a professional basketball league outside of North America.

Sharing the plans during NBA All-Star Weekend in Charlotte, league commissioner Adam Silver said that former President Barack Obama is among those who want to have “direct involvement” with the Basketball Africa League.

Silver said during the NBA All-Star 2019 Africa Luncheon that “several of our partners have also expressed an interest to work with us in Africa,” including Nike’s Jordan Brand and Pepsi.

“There has been a fantastic reception” for the formation of the league, with a target launch date of January 2020, said Silver. “The Basketball Africa League is an important next step in our continued development of the game of basketball in Africa.d

“Combined with our other programs on the continent, we are committed to using basketball as an economic engine to create new opportunities in sports, media and technology across Africa.,” said Silver.

During the event, President Obama appeared in a video applauding the NBA’s Basketball Africa League plan and its desire to boost the sport and communities in Africa.

“I want you to know that, though sport, if you put in effort, you will be rewarded,” he said in the video.

On his Twitter page, President Obama wrote, “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.”

The NBA has played three games on the continent since 2015, including this past August in Pretoria, South Africa, where the NBA has an office.

Of the players on opening night roosters this season, 13 were born in Africa , according to the NBA.

Silver said the NBA and FIBA would have a financial investment and offer resources for the league, its infrastructure and growing the game on the continent.

The two organizations would also provide training for players, coaches and referees.

Regarding financial support from Africa-based businesses, Silver said there are more than 400 companies in Africa that generate more than $1 billion annually that potentially could become part of the project.

“Africa has a huge economic engine,” Silver said.

The NBA and FIBA said they plan to conduct qualification tournaments this year to identify the 12 teams that would represent several African countries, including Angola, Egypt, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa and Tunisia, with no more than two teams from the same country able to qualify.

The NBA also said it plans to introduce a re-imagined direct-to-consumer offering of NBA games for people in Africa by the start of the 2019-20 NBA season. That would include new packages, features and localized content.

Among those who joined Silver at the event were Michael Jordan, Hall of Famer and majority owner of the Charlotte Hornets, the team hosting All-Star Weekend; Hamane Niang, president for FIBA Africa; Alphonse Bile, executive director for FIBA Africa; Hall of Famer Dikembe Mutombo, now an NBA Global Ambassador, who was born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo); WNBA All-Star Chiney Ogwumike, whose parents are from Nigeria; and Michele Roberts, executive director for the National Basketball Players Assn.

According to Amadou Gallo Fall, NBA vp and managing director for Africa, "The establishment of the Basketball Africa League is another exciting milestone for the NBA in Africa. Having a top-flight professional basketball league in Africa will provide a platform for elite players to showcase their talent and inspire more young boys and girls to play the game."

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