LOS ANGELES – The NBA Africa Game between Team Africa and Team World will return to Johannesburg on August 4, NBA Africa Vice President Amadou Gallo Fall announced in Los Angeles this morning.
The venue is yet to be announced, but the game will honour the centenary of the birth of former President Nelson Mandela and will be played in support of the Nelson Mandela Foundation.
The announcement of the NBA Africa Game returning to Johannesburg was made during the NBA All Star Weekend at a swanky luncheon at the Indigo Hotel in downtown Los Angeles, moderated by CNN anchor Isha Sesay.
To give an indication of the growth and importance of NBA Africa’s role to the multibillion dollar NBA organisation, the announcement was attended by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and a host of celebrities, basketball stars and African entrepreneurs.
Just some of those also in attendance at the NBA Africa game announcement included Senegalese musician and entrepreneur Akon, actor Djimon Hounsou of Blood Diamond fame, Liberian entrepreneur Richelieu Dennis – the Shea Moisture founder who recently bought Essence Magazine from Time INC – as well as a slew of current and former African NBA stars such as Dikembe Mutombo, Didier Mbenga, Serge Ibaka and Bismack Biyombo.
South African celebrities who attended included socialites and personalities such as Nomzamo Mbatha and Pearl Thusi, musician Cassper Nyovest and film-maker Akin Omotoso.
The 2017 NBA Africa game featured African-born and second-generation players, with South Sudan’s Luol Deng from the LA Lakers and Utah Jazz’s Thabo Sefolosha – whose family hails from Mamelodi – as captains of Team Africa and Team World being led by NBA stars Dirk Nowitzki from the Dallas and Kemba Walker from the Charlotte Hornets.
If the launch was anything to go, the 2018 NBA Africa Game is set to be even bigger and better, though no announcements have been made as yet about the venue or team captains and rosters.
Gallo Fall said NBA Africa were delighted to again bring some of the organisation’s biggest stars and most influential stakeholders to the African continent for the August game in Johannesburg.
“Hosting the third NBA Africa Game in Johannesburg gives us the chance to celebrate Africa and to celebrate the energy these role models bring for our youth.
“It’s not just about the game being played on the court. We have a whole week where we engage with the community, where we host an innovation summit, where we bring some of the brightest minds across different sectors, in technology, music, fashion and science to come and share their vision with our young people,” said Gallo Fall.
“Basketball is used only as a catalyst. We are saying to Africa’s young people that the dreams they are chasing, if we can create an enabling environment, they can make it happen.
“It’s unbelievably inspiring hearing about Akon lighting Africa, Bismack’s (Biyombo) building schools. It’s about an Africa on the global stage that is proud, and it’s all about excellence,” Gallo Fall Added.
NBA Commissioner Silver said in no uncertain terms that the NBA saw the African continent as a major growth opportunity for the organisation from a playing and commercial perspective.
“Africa is one of the fastest-growing continents in the world, and the NBA and the sport of basketball is one of the fastest growing sports in the world.
“The NBA Africa game is not just about sport, but it’s also about business. We see a huge opportunity in Africa,” said Silver.