JOHANNESBURG – The National Basketball Association showed how seriously it’s taking its latest venture into Africa by appointing the head of its operation on the continent, Amadou Gallo Fall, to the presidency of the Basketball Africa League, which is due to tip off next year.
The NBA’s office in Africa, where Gallo Fall was managing director, will soon begin the search for a new official for that position. The appointment of Gallo Fall is the latest step in the establishment of the BAL, which was announced in February.
“Amadou’s efforts to grow basketball and the NBA’s business across Africa have been extraordinary, and he is an ideal choice to lead the Basketball Africa League,” said NBA deputy commissioner and chief operating officer Mark Tatum.
Gallo Fall has helped to make basketball one of the most popular sports in Africa. From development initiatives like the Basketball Without Borders programme, to opening a training academy in Senegal last November and the hosting of three NBA Africa exhibition games, Gallo Fall has ensured that the NBA don’t just take talent from the continent to fill up teams in the US.
The success and stardom of the likes of Joel Embiid and Pascal Siakam, have helped to accelerate the popularity of the sport and further elevated the NBA’s brand in Africa.
Embiid and Siakam, both from Cameroon, faced off against one another in the NBA’s Eastern Conference semi-finals recently, with Siakam’s Toronto Raptors team eventually qualifying for the NBA Finals, which will start in Toronto on Friday morning (SA time).
The Raptors president, Masai Ujiri, a close associate of Gallo Fall, has also been intimately involved in growing the NBA brand throughout Africa and in recent weeks has received high praise for his administrative skills with the Toronto franchise.
He will be lending Gallo Fall plenty of support when the new league starts next year. It will feature 12 teams based in cities throughout Africa. The NBA views the BAL as providing another avenue for players from the continent to display their skills, and it’s a further sign of how well its various development programmes have worked.
Tatum pointed out that the BAL would be about more than just basketball. “This historic initiative will not only further enhance the game in Africa but also provide new opportunities in media, technology and infrastructure on the continent.”@shockerhess