Nelson Mandela Rumors
“He’s not gone anywhere, and that’s what I am trying to preach,” said Toronto Raptors GM Masai Ujiri. Gone but not forgotten was the sentiment of the second annual Nelson Mandela night held by Ujiri and his not-for-profit organization “Giants of Africa” at the Air Canada Centre where the Raptors took on and lost to the undefeated Golden State Warriors. The event celebrated Mandela’s life, legacy and ability to inspire change especially through the use of sport to unite the world.
Drake, David Beckham, Magic Johnson and Charles Barkley are expected to attend Friday’s game against Cleveland in Toronto that will promote the Giants of Africa foundation, which uses basketball to educate and enrich African youth. Toronto will host a pregame fundraiser, and the Raptors will wear shooting shirts honoring Nelson Mandela.
In an attempt to channel Mandela’s ideals of inclusion and equality in sports, the Orlando Magic are making great attempts to recognize others from different cultures and backgrounds. Just as the franchise and Chase have both been committed to multicultural efforts in the past, hosting Noche Latina Night and Black History Month activities, the Magic will join with the Indian American Chamber of Commerce (IACC) on Jan. 19 for the second annual India Day presented by Chase. The IACC executive committee includes President Tino Patel, Varesh Patel, Yog Melwani, Jay Shah, Beena Parikh and Sanjay Srinivasan.
Nelson Mandela wasn’t taking visitors. He was pushing 90, the famed vitality fading, but was told that a group there to see him in Johannesburg included Dikembe Mutombo. “He met with us, and he was just so happy to see me,” Mutombo, the great former Nuggets center, said by phone. “He said, ‘Mutombo my friend, how are you doing?’ There were all these NBA players and coaches, and they all were shocked — ‘Madiba remembered your name?’ He said, ‘Thank you very much for what you’re doing in Africa. How’s the hospital?’ To hear that coming from Mandela, it was something I will never forget.”
“He shared with us so many things, and I will take that experience with me to my grave,” Mutombo said. “I got a chance to meet the great leader, the great man of faith, the great hero — not just for Africa, but for the world. “This man spent 27 years in jail, was about to run for presidency of the new South Africa and he decided to meet with us. He believed that sport was the way to bring white and black South Africans together. Mandela unified the nation through the sports — sports can change the community, sports can change the world. It can change a human being with how they think, how they look at each other.”