South Africa Rumors

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.”
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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.
The NBA will stage an exhibition game next August in South Africa. Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum made the announcement Tuesday in Johannesburg, where the NBA is holding a Basketball without Borders camp. He said all proceeds will go to charity and that becoming the first U.S. professional league to play a game on the continent is “just an evolution of our commitment to continuing to bring basketball to the continent of Africa.” “I think that’s a pretty big deal,” Tatum said.
“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.”
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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.”
Mbah a Moute was a camper in the NBA’s inaugural Basketball Without Borders Africa camp in 2003. Now he has returned to the camp in Johannesburg, South Africa, to serve as a counselor for the third time. “The one question I get asked is what’s up after this camp for them,” Mbah a Moute said of the 60 young African players taking part in the program. “The most important thing they learn at this camp is not about basketball. It’s about life skills.”
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Milwaukee Bucks forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute remembers the NBA as a faraway place. Making it a reality hardly seemed possible. “The closest I got to the NBA was getting up at 3 a.m. to watch games on TV,” said Mbah a Moute, who grew up with five brothers and three sisters in Cameroon. “When I came to this camp and met Dikembe Mutombo, it was a dream come true. Not only could you see it, but feel it and live it.”
Cole Aldrich On his summer plans: It’s going to be a short, short summer, but we’re going to do Basketball Without Borders in South Africa coming up. I think Serge (Ibaka) and Thabo (Sefolosha) might make it out to South Africa. That’s going to be a huge blessing for us, to see that part of the world and Serge is from that area, so hopefully he can touch on some things. Some things that I’ve never seen in my life and some real life-changing experiences. It’s going to be so much fun but it’s going to be a lot of hard work this summer too though. It’ll be a lot of time in the gym, in the weight room and just working to get better.
At the same time Sport and Recreation Minister Fikile Mbalula has also roped in the South African embassy in the US to facilitate the development of various programmes with the NBA. Ambassador Ebrahim Rasool has also been asked to oversee the process of establishing a joint task team with the leadership of the NBA. This comes after Mbalula visited Orlando, US, last week to watch the All Stars fiesta, which also included a series of meetings with the NBA. “The joint task team, will finalise the agreements on possible exchange programmes and expansion of basketball in South Africa,” said Mbalula’s spokesman Paena Galane. “During the visit to the US, Mbalula also met with Reverend Jesse Jackson to lobby him to help us in ensuring this process with the NBA becomes successful.