The NBA is taking its business to the motherland to launch a new professional league.
In a partnership between the NBA and the sport’s global governing body, FIBA, the Basketball Africa League will be a 12-team league, set to kick off their season in January. According to the Chicago Tribune, working alongside the NBA and FIBA will be none other than forever President Barack Obama, who is expected to have a hands-on role, though the details remain unclear.
“I’ve always loved basketball because it’s about building a team that’s equal to more than the sum of its parts,” Obama said of the news of the new league and his involvement. “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.”
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. https://t.co/lghcLaUN9a
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) February 16, 2019
While there are already several professional teams across the continent, the new league will attempt to bring them together, with funding, resources and additional training. However, there will still be tournaments set in place to help determine which teams will qualify for the league.
Although the league is a brand new venture between the NBA and Africa, the NBA has a longstanding history with the continent, as it has invested in several basketball programs, including the Giants of Africa youth basketball program, which Obama, himself, helped with in 2017. The longstanding relationship has also reportedly helped increase the number of African ballers in the American league, including Sixers superstar Joel Embiid.
“We’re excited to work closely with the NBA to develop and put in place a professional league like none that we have ever seen in our region before,” FIBA Africa Executive Director Alphonse Bile said. “Through the Basketball African League, we can provide the many great clubs and players with the best possible environment to compete for the highest stakes.”