As part of efforts to grow the game of basketball, develop talents and grow the NBA business, NBA Africa held a round table discussion with the media in Lagos on Friday.
The media round table was held with the NBA Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer Mark Tatum, NBA Africa CEO Victor Williams, NBA Africa Vice President and Country Head for Nigeria Gbemisola Abudu and Basketball Africa League (BAL) President Amadou Gallo Fall.
The event was also put together as part of Mark Tatum’s first visit to Nigeria.
The NBA executives reiterated their commitment to providing more boys and girls in Nigeria with more opportunities to learn the fundamentals and core values of the game, and help grow and strengthen the Nigerian basketball ecosystem.
Tatum said the NBA recognized the numerous talents from Nigeria, the need to grow the game which could serve as catalyst to the rest of Africa.
“While we just opened an office here this year, Nigeria has been an important market for the NBA for decades, dating back to when Hall of Famers Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Oscar Robertson hosted basketball clinics here in 1971. And you can’t overstate the incredible basketball talent from Nigeria and its impact on the league.”
“From Hakeem Olajuwon, who was selected with the number one pick in the 1984 NBA Draft, to six Nigerian players on NBA rosters this season, to two-time NBA Most Valuable Player Giannis Antetokounmpo, who is of course of Nigerian descent.”
Tatum continued: “We opened an office in Lagos because we believe there is enormous opportunity ahead for the NBA in Nigeria and because the continued growth of basketball here can be a catalyst for the rest of the continent. We want to help accelerate the growth of basketball and help develop an environment in which, the Nigerian youth has a predictable pathway to learn the game and maximize their potential.”
In the same vein, NBA Africa CEO Victor Williams re-emphasized the commitment of the NBA to grow the game of basketball in Nigeria.
“The NBA Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum is here this week, along with a delegation of other NBA executives, and it speaks to our continued commitment to growing the game of basketball in Nigeria, strengthening the basketball ecosystem, connecting with our fans and building up the NBA brand and activities in Nigeria.
“Nigeria already makes a significant contribution to the NBA in terms of players, coaches, executives and leaders at all levels, so it is a really important and significant market for the NBA in Africa and we’re really pleased to be here this weekend to spend time in the country, meet with various stakeholders and to promote what the NBA is looking to do in Nigeria. ”
NBA Africa VP and Country Head for Nigeria Gbemisola Abudu said the NBA is committed in ensuring fans experience the NBA.
“When we’re saying that we are investing in Nigeria, that’s exactly what we’re doing. We’re investing from a human capacity standpoint, making sure that our fans get to experience the NBA. It’s very significant and it shows our commitment to the country.”
Meanwhile, Basketball Africa League President Amadou Gallo Fall expressed his delight to have Nigeria back in the BAL having missed out on the second season.
“The second BAL season, broadcast in 215 countries and territories, featured 12 of the top club teams from across the continent and demonstrated how much talent and passion there is for basketball in Africa. We are excited about the momentum that we are seeing building across the continent as we prepare for another exciting season.
“Yesterday, FIBA Africa conducted the draw of the Road to the BAL’s Elite 16 qualifying tournament and we are looking forward to finding out which teams will compete in the BAL next year.”
“Nigeria has a rich basketball culture and tradition, and we are pleased that Nigerian teams can once again compete in international competitions.”
Picture : L-R: Victor Williams, Chief Executive Officer, National Basketball Association (NBA) Africa; Gbemisola Abudu, NBA Africa Vice President & Country Head of Nigeria; Mark Tatum, NBA Deputy Commissioner and Amadou Gallo Fall, President, Basketball Africa League, during a Media Briefing with the NBA Deputy Commissioner on his visit to Lagos for the League’s work in Nigeria, and Growing the Game of Basketball Africa League held in Lagos, on Friday.