One of the biggest sports leagues in the world, the National Basketball Association (NBA), recently announced that they would be forming a new basketball league on the African continent in the next decade. According to Bleacher Report, the Basketball Africa League is expected to commence exactly on March 20, 2020, in Senegal.
The new Basketball Africa League by the NBA, in collaboration with FIBA (The International Basketball Federation), would feature a total of 12 teams from Angola, Egypt, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa & Tunisia. According to the official NBA website, every nation participating in the league would have no more than one team represented at the tournament.
With all the good news surrounding NBA’s interest on the African continent, we must ask what the benefits would bring to Africa and what it would mean for the progression of sports on our continent. First of all, this initiative by the NBA and FIBA in Africa would help strengthen the basketball fan base on the continent. Currently, Africa is well represented in the NBA. Reuters reported that there were about 13 African born players on the roster of NBA teams in the 2018/19 season.
Some of these famous Africans in the NBA include Joel Embiid from Cameroon, whose net worth is about $178 million, according to Forbes, and Luol Deng from South Sudan, whose net worth is about $200 million, according to celebrity net worth.com. The report from Reuters further states that the number of African players would increase to 40 if players with African parents are included in the context.
This has not been the first time the NBA has sought ways to expand its popularity in Africa. Recently, the sporting organization began to live stream games on YouTube for viewers in sub-Saharan Africa in an attempt to generate more interest and build a fan base on the continent.
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The NBA and FIBA would also help provide financial support, as well as resources, that would help further develop the game on the continent. As part of the assistance, the NBA would also provide training for the referees, coaches, and players.
According to Reuters, the NBA opened a Basketball academy in Saly, Senegal in 2017. NBA PR states that the facility features two indoor basketball courts, a multidimensional activity centre, a weight room, a conference room. In addition, dormitories and educational facilities are present at this academy and it would be the main training site for NBA Academy Africa prospects.
The NBA’s influence in Africa, as well as the growth of audience interest on the continent, has definitely contributed to the NBA’s general revenue collection. According to Reuters, the NBA generated $8 billion in revenue in the past year.
We as humans cannot see the future but if we were to make predictions, we could easily say that the Basketball Africa League (BAL) by the NBA and FIBA would be a success, due to previous groundwork the NBA has done on the African continent.
The future of basketball is definitely in Africa and this is positive for our future African basketball prospects on the continent.
Paul Olele Jnr writes from Washington DC. He is a 2019 graduate of George Washington University and currently works as graduate Media and Research Intern at the Initiative for Global Development.