Former US President Barack Obama has joined NBA Africa as a strategic partner and minority owner, sources told ESPN’s The Undefeated Tuesday.
NBA Africa conducts league work on that continent, including the new Basketball Africa League (BAL). Obama plans to assist the association’s social responsibility efforts, including programs and associations across the continent that support greater gender equality and economic inclusion. He will also have a minority stake in NBA Africa, which he intends to use to fund the Obama Foundation’s youth and leadership programs in Africa.
“The National Basketball Association has always been a great ambassador for the United States, using the game to create deeper connections around the world, and in Africa, basketball has the potential to promote opportunity, well-being, equality and empowerment across the continent.” Obama said in a statement. “By investing in communities, promoting gender equality and cultivating a love of basketball, I believe NBA Africa can make a difference for many young Africans.
“I have been impressed by the NBA’s commitment to Africa, including the leadership shown by so many African players who want to give back to their countries and communities. That is why I am proud to join the NBA Africa team and look forward to a partnership that benefits the youth of many countries.”
BAL was first announced during the NBA All-Star Weekend 2018. After being delayed due to the pandemic, BAL celebrated its inaugural season in May with 12 teams from 12 different African countries. At the time, expectations rose about Obama’s participation at some point.
Obama, whose father is from Kenya, is a huge fan of the NBA, has been involved with different players on many projects, and participated in the celebrations over the weekend of the 2019 NBA All-Star Game in his hometown of Chicago.
The National Basketball Association said NBA Africa is focused on expanding the league’s presence in priority African markets, deepening the association’s engagement with players and fans across the continent, and continuing to grow the basketball ecosystem in Africa through programs like Jr. NBA, Basketball Without Borders Africa and NBA. Africa Academy.
“We are honored that President Obama has become a strategic partner in the NBA in Africa and will support our extensive efforts to grow basketball on the continent,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. “In addition to his well-documented love of basketball, President Obama strongly believes in Africa’s potential and the tremendous growth opportunities that exist through the sport. NBA Africa will greatly benefit from his commitment.”
The NBA said strategic investors in NBA Africa also include a consortium led by Babatunde “Tunde” Folawiyo, president and CEO of Yinka Folawiyo Group, and Helios Fairfax Partners, led by co-CEO Toby Lawani. Previous additional investors include NBA Junior Bridgeman, Luol Deng, Grant Hill, Ian Mahinmi, Dikembe Mutombo Joachim Noah.
Since opening its African headquarters in Johannesburg in 2010, the NBA has increased its efforts on the continent to reach out to Basketball and the NBA through social responsibility, grassroots and elite development, media distribution, corporate partnerships, NBA Africa games and the launch of Pal.