Former US President Barack Obama has always fancied himself a bit of a basketball aficionado. According to perennial NBA All-Star guard Chris Paul, “I was shocked at how good he was.” Paul even had the opportunity to play a little pick-up ball against the former President, leading him to say to Obama at one point, “Nice lefty jump shot.” That’s pretty high praise from a future Hall of Fame player with a pretty good shot of his own.
It appears the former President is about ready to put his name, money and time on the line in support of a new professional basketball league. Just days before the NBA All-Star break, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced the league’s intention to lend financial support to the new Basketball African League. The new league could be of interest to sports bettors who should be watching places like BettingNews.com sports coverage regarding this matter in the coming months.
As for league details, here is what is known at this point in time. The league is scheduled to begin sometime in 2020, most likely after the conclusion of the NBA season. The league is slated to include 12 professional teams, representing many of the largest populated African countries. This list of likely franchises already includes teams from the nations of Angola, Egypt, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa and Tunisia.
It’s noteworthy that Africa is already home to a number of different professional basketball leagues. In conjunction with the International Basketball Federation, the NBA and its sponsors will be holding a series of qualifying tournaments later this year. The task at hand will be to identify the best and most competitive teams and bring them together under the umbrella of one quality basketball league with the support and resources needed to develop top-level competition and players.
The NBA knows all to well how good players from Africa can be. In recent years and currently, the league has been home to Hall of Fame players like Hakeem Olajuwon, Dikembe Mutombo as well as current Philadelphia Sixer superstar Joel Embiid. Other current African players in the NBA include Toronto Raptors forward OG Anunoby and Charlotte Hornets center Bismack Biyombo.
According to Commissioner Silver, “The Basketball Africa League is an important next step in our continued development of the game of basketball in Africa. 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.”
As for Obama role in the new league, the level of his participation is still to be determined. Sources have indicated the former US President is looking for hands on involvement. Here’s a Twitter quote that best sums up the reasons he is pursuing this endeavor:
“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.”