From a continent where football is admired and considered as the sovereign sport, one man is undertaking the challenge to change this perspective and spread the game of basketball in Africa.
Senegalese-born Amadou Gallo Fall, who was chosen to lead the NBA’s operations on the continent, opened up an office in Johannesburg four years ago with the purpose of building on the long history that the continent had with the NBA.
Exactly three decades ago, the first African player Hakeem Abdul Olajuwon from Nigeria was selected as the No 1 NBA draft pick by the Houston Rockets.
He went on to win back-to-back championships with the Rockets in 1994 and 1995 and is the only player in NBA history to have won NBA MVP, Defensive player of the year and NBA Finals MVP.
Inducted in the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2008, Olajuwon has since paved the way for several legends like Manute Bol (South Sudan), Mutombo Dikembe (Congo), Luol Deng (South Sudan) and Serge Ibaka (Congo) who have created a huge presence in the league.
NBA Africa’s vice president and Managing Director, Amadou revealed: “Year after year, the number of players on the continent is increasing and obviously the presence of African players in the NBA is making it easy for us.”
Through the annual Basketball without Borders (BWB) programme held every summer, hundreds of teenagers are mentored by former and current NBA and WNBA players and coaches as well as FIBA trainers from across the world.
BWB attracts players that are 18 and under from 24 countries across Africa who receive top level instructions on court and daily life skills seminars focusing on the values of the game like leadership, character development and living a healthy lifestyle.
Read more at: SuperSport.com