FILE - In this Nov. 1, 2018 file photo, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announces that the Cleveland Cavaliers will host the 2022 NBA All Star game during a news conference in Cleveland. The NBA is bringing a pro league to Africa. The Basketball Africa League, a new collaboration between the NBA and the sport’s global governing body FIBA, was announced Saturday, Feb. 16, 2019. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak, File)

NBA, FIBA announce plans for pro league in Africa

Obama — an enormous basketball fan — has told him he wants to have a direct role in the league, reports say

The NBA is bringing a pro league to Africa.

The Basketball Africa League, a new collaboration between the NBA and the sport’s global governing body FIBA, was announced Saturday. The initial plan is for the 12-team league to begin play in January, and former President Barack Obama is among those who are expected to have direct involvement with the league’s operations.

It’s yet to be determined which existing club teams will be part of the league. Qualification tournaments will be held later this year to determine those clubs, with teams from Angola, Egypt, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa and Tunisia expected to be among those taking part. No nation will have more than two teams in the league.

“As we’ve been talking about this concept over the last several months, there’s been a tremendous reception from several of our NBA team owners,” Silver said. “Several of our partners have also expressed an interest to work with us in Africa.”

Silver said Pepsi and Nike’s Jordan Brand are among the partners who have reached out to the NBA and said they want to be part of the Africa league. Silver also said that Obama — an enormous basketball fan — has told him he wants to have a direct role in the league, the specifics of which have yet to be determined.

“There’s been a fantastic reception,” Silver said.

Obama spoke on a video that was shown during the event where Silver announced the league.

“Through sport, if you put in effort, you will be rewarded,” Obama said.

The NBA and FIBA’s involvement will include financial support and resources toward continued growing of the game on the continent, as well as providing training for players, coaches and referees and some infrastructure for the new league. Silver said there are more than 400 companies in Africa that generate more than $1 billion annually, but that sport there has not seen the same growth — yet.

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

The NBA has held three games in Africa since 2015, all of them selling out — two games in Johannesburg, the other in Pretoria. Many of the league’s current players and coaches, along with several legends and Hall of Famers, have been part of those trips.

“I went with them last year,” Basketball Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar said. “The NBA reaches out across the world.”

The league has an office in South Africa, has helped create 87 learn-and-play facilities in seven African nations, and 13 players who were born in Africa on opening-night NBA rosters this season. The league also built an academy in Senegal that opened nearly two years ago.

“It’s a huge joy to see our partnership with the NBA enter unchartered territory as we work together for the first time to maximize the potential of professional basketball in Africa,” said Andreas Zagklis, FIBA’s secretary general.

This marks the first time the NBA has been involved with the operation of a league 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.”

The NBA says more details about the new league will be released in the coming months.

Tim Reynolds, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Fort Langley residents launch passionate debate over demolishing buildings

More than 40 people spoke at a meeting Monday evening

LETTER: Langley was generous during Christmas in July fundraiser

Funds raised go to the Langley School District Foundation food programs for local students.

VIDEO: Langley car wash fights cancer

Non-profit Volunteer Cancer Drivers Society reports record single donation from Langley

VIDEO: Hazmat incident closes down Langley City street

One person is believed to be dead, police said

Langley chamber of commerce upset about lack of funding for SkyTrain

An uncertain future for the extension to Langley is due to the budget

VIDEO: Langley kids play Hawaii, again

Milestone year for Langley Ukulele Ensemble as they celebrate quarter century performing in Waikiki

Coroner investigating after body recovered from Okanagan Lake

Penticton fire department assisted the RCMP with the recovery of a body Saturday

Overdoses overwhelming in B.C. Interior

Part two: Who’s affected by the current opioid crisis

Kelowna cab driver charged with sexual assault

RCMP received a report May 28 alleging a taxi passenger had been sexually assaulted by a cab driver

Jurors talk about trial of U.S. man convicted in 1987 murders of B.C. couple

Three jurors offer a window into deliberations during the trial

Tubing world record broken on Vancouver Island

But record for length of tubes linked together still has to be confirmed

The Beaverton’s sharp satire thrives in polarized political climate

Canadian TV series’ third season to air Tuesday on CTV after “The Amazing Race Canada”

VIDEO: Young couple found dead in northern B.C. had been shot, police say

Chynna Noelle Deese of the U.S. and Lucas Robertson Fowler of Australia were found along Highway 97

VIDEO: Man found dead near B.C. teens’ truck could be linked to a double homicide

RCMP said they are looking for Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, of Port Alberni

Most Read