It has been a exciting month for the game of basketball following the recently concluded NBA all star weekend, which had its first Nigerian all-star captain, Giannis Antetokounmpo. Fortunately some of that excitement has spilled right onto the African sports scene.
NBA commissioner, Adam Silver announced that plans to create a basketball league in Africa, aptly dubbed Basketball Africa League (BAL), are in its early stages. This was announced during the annual NBA Africa luncheon which held on Saturday. NBA commissioner Adam Silver and International Basketball Federation (Fiba) secretary general Andreas Zagklis officially announced the two organisations’ plan to launch the Basketball African League (BAL).
Adam silver stated that:
“The Basketball Africa League is an important next step in our continued development of the game of basketball in Africa. Combined with our other programs on the continent, we are committed to using basketball as an economic engine to create new opportunities in sports, media and technology across Africa”
It is worth taking into account that this idea is not entirely unique, as CBL Africa already has an existing pan African league called the Continental basketball league, which involves teams from all over Africa, competing in the cities of Lagos and Abidjan.
Unfortunately this league didn’t get the resources necessary to boosts its popularity, which is why to many, the Basketball African league (BAL) might end up looking like the first pan African league in the continent, seeing as the NBA could pull from its vast resources, ways to boost the league in popularity and market value.
Its a shame that the BAL could possibly mask the CBL Continental league or make it obsolete as players all over the continent are looking to pivot from the Continental league to the Basketball Africa league. Although CBL Africa has stated that they are happy about the NBA coming to Africa, because it creates another league local players can aspire to asides the domestic league organised by their national federations.
Regardless, this BAL initiative is not necessarily a hostile take over, but rather a basketball expansion and growth scheme for young African players.
It is no secret that the NBA has continually shown great interest in the growth and development of basketball in Africa, as this is not the first initiative NBA is taking to bring its influence to the motherland. Other initiatives include, Basketball without borders program, Junior NBA, NBA Academy Games in Africa.
Also NBA players such as Nigerian star and Portland trailblazers power forward, Al-Farouk Aminu, Cameroonian all-star and Philadelphia 76ers Power Forward, Joel Embiid, and south Sudan born basketballer Luol Deng, have all contributed greatly to growth and basketball awareness in Africa.
The BAL which is set to launch on January 2020, is going to feature twelve teams from all over the continent, with a maximum of two teams allowed from a single country. It is speculated that South Africa would play host to the league, as it appears to be one of the few countries in Africa with sports infrastructures developed enough to house the kind of event the NBA aims to create.