South Africa Rumors
Ezeli is scheduled to depart from South Africa back to the United States on Aug. 6. He says his trip to Africa won’t be complete until he finally steps foot back in Nigeria. “Even if I can’t go right now, the fact that I can go back to Africa is exciting to me,” Ezeli said. “There are a lot of things I want to do in the world. With the trouble in Nigeria and things like that, I want to be able to help my country in some way. I don’t know how it’s going to be, but I want to help my country. But to be able to give back to the continent, this is an exciting first step.”
Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal and forward Kenneth Faried of the Denver Nuggets will play in the NBA’s exhibition game in South Africa this summer. Serge Ibaka of the Oklahoma City Thunder and Gorgui Dieng of the Minnesota Timberwolves also will take part in the Aug. 1 game in Johannesburg, the league says Tuesday.
Obviously tough news with Kyrie. What was your reaction when you heard? Adam Silver: “First of all, from a personal standpoint, I’ve become good friends with Kyrie over the years. I traveled to South Africa with him and his Dad a year and a half ago, and I’m also a Duke grad (like Irving). So I’m devastated for him personally. You never like to see injuries, especially at this level, and right in the middle of our highest-profile series. Whether or not there’s more we can do to prevent injuries is something we’re very focused on. It’s always been part of the game — injuries happen, and they happen to high-profile players, they happen to guys who aren’t so high profile. Whether there’s better training practices, whether through better analytics, we can get a sense of what precise movements lead to injuries, whether it’s a function of the schedule are all things that we’re (looking at).”
The NBA will play its first exhibition game in Africa on Aug. 1 at Ellis Park Arena in Johannesburg, South Africa in a Team Africa vs. Team World Cup format. Miami Heat forward Luol Deng, who was born in what is now South Sudan, will captain the African team and Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul will captain the world team. Full rosters will be announced at a later date. “I am extremely proud to be a part of the NBA’s first game in Africa,” Deng said in statement. “Coming from South Sudan and having participated in the Basketball without Borders Africa camps in Johannesburg previously, I am truly honored to be part of this historic event.”
David Stern: Somebody asked me about being opportunistic. We were early adopters with respect to digital, NBA.com, NBA TV, NBA League Pass, even the NBA on cable back in 1979. We didn’t have a specific plan, but we had a view that there were things that you had to take advantage of. With respect to social responsibility, we espoused the view that if you don’t stand for something, you’re not going to stand for anything. And we tried to preach that to the teams, and it was very rewarding to see each of our teams with not just a Community Relations department, and big ones, and with foundations and extraordinary embracing of what sports could do and mean. Basketball Without Borders is taking place as we speak in South Africa. I guess we’re in Rome, and I was looking at a recent memo on what was going on with the NBA in Madagascar, and Africa, assisting the State Department and sports diplomacy. This thing is so embedded, and we’re going to continue doing our part on a regular basis.