NBA’s second Africa Game kicked off Saturday in Johannesburg, South Africa.
NBA Africa Game 2017, which takes place after the 15th edition of Basketball without Borders (BWB) Africa, will once again feature a Team World vs. Team Africa format and will be played in support of the UNICEF, the Nelson Mandela Foundation and SOS Children’s Villages South Africa (SOSCVSA).
Team Africa, comprised of players born in Africa, will be led by team captains Luol Deng (Los Angeles Lakers; South Sudan) and Thabo Sefolosha (most recently with the Atlanta Hawks) along with Joel Embiid (Philadelphia 76ers; Cameroon) and Serge Ibaka (Toronto Raptors; Congo). Team World, comprised of players from the rest of the world, will be led by Dirk Nowitzki (Dallas Mavericks) and Kemba Walker (Charlotte Hornets).
The Africa Game is way more than an exhibition match but also includes exploration back home, charity and globalization development. It is not just “win-win,” but “multi-wins.”
NBA Africa Game first met Africa in South Africa in August 2015. All the revenues created will go to charity organizations.
Hakeem Abdul Olajuwon (L), Dikembe Mutombo (R)/AFP Pitcure
NBA is the first of the four major sports leagues in North America to move its game to Africa, a place that has already sent many valuable players, including legends like “The Dream” Hakeem Abdul Olajuwon and Dikembe Mutombo, as well as today’s all-star players like “the Greek Freak” Giannis Antetokounmpo.
As a business league, NBA has every reason to explore new market all over the world. However, that is not the only reason why Africa Game was born. One of the most valuable things brought to the continent by the game was hope for the local children.
Serge Ibaka was born in Brazzaville, capital of Congo in central Africa, as the 16th out of 18 siblings. When he was nine years old, civil war forced his family to live in a cabin in the forest for three years without water and power supply.
Giannis Antetokounmpo first entered All-Star weekend in 2017./AFP Picture
Basketball changed Ibaka’s life as he went to France, Spain and finally, NBA, thanks to his outstanding athleticism and sustainable efforts. A basketball star, Ibaka was very passionate about charity work in Africa.
“I wanted to tell people where I came from, not to air my sufferings, but to tell myself to be grateful. I believe Africa Game can bring so many changes here.”
(With inputs from Tencent Sports)