While Egypt’s Zamalek celebrated on a stage as the 2021 Basketball Africa League champions, guard Walter Hodge held his Hakeem Olajuwon Award trophy up high and spoke of the promising future of the new league. “This is the first time that this league is here,” Hodge said on May 30 in Kigali, Rwanda, “and it’s going to be here for a long time.”
Those words from Hodge had to be music to the ears of BAL president Amadou Fall, who presented the MVP trophy. Fall has been at the forefront of the long, trying process to get the league started. Fall announced the arrival of the BAL on Feb. 16, 2019. The initial expectation was that the inaugural season would include 12 teams from across the continent with games taking place in seven African cities beginning on March 13, 2020. But the coronavirus pandemic altered those plans. The season finally got underway on May 16 with 12 teams playing all games in Kigali.
“Obviously, having the opportunity to do something that’s never been done before and especially in a pandemic, there’s a lot of anticipation and it took efforts from really the entire NBA family,” Fall told The Undefeated. “Incredible jobs were done here in Rwanda with the conditions that allow us to implement a very stringent COVID protocol. We were focused on making sure we finished strong. And our goal was to have a successful and safe event, where everybody goes home and just have some safety of everyone involved. And we’ve had some really competitive basketball too. We have reasons to really be superpositive.”
NBA commissioner Adam Silver announced the formation of a new business investment entity called NBA Africa on Monday that includes investments from former star players. NBA Africa will conduct the league's business endeavors in Africa, including the new Basketball Africa League (BAL). Investors will come from African businesses, governments and non-governmental organizations as well as former NBA greats Dikembe Mutombo and Grant Hill.
The NBA hopes that the funding will contribute to the growth of the BAL, help expand the league's presence in priority African markets and Africa's basketball ecosystem, and improve the league's engagement with players and fans through initiatives such as the launch of additional NBA academies and social responsibility initiatives. "With the expertise, resources and shared vision, the immensely successful investors and NBA legends, we believe that basketball in Africa can become a top sport over the next decade," Silver said during a virtual press conference.
Despite years of injury setbacks since he burst onto the scene at the Texas Longhorns, Patriots BBC star Prince Ibeh is shining at the Basketball Africa League (BAL) and fighting for a long-awaited NBA breakthrough. Ibeh, who was at Texas from 2012 to 2016, still has time on his side, but he had to overcome injury setbacks, like tearing his quadricep during the pre-draft process, which likely denied him the privilege of playing in the NBA.
He went on to play in the NBA G-League, as well as in Japan, the Philippines, Germany, and most recently back in England with the Plymouth Raiders. However, the London-born Rwanda international feels he can make it in the world's premier league, telling ESPN: "As I've gotten older and more professional, I've really put more time into taking care of my body and doing all of the things necessary to maintain my health -- even going above and beyond.
"[An NBA move] is definitely still on the horizon. Even now, I'm not close to the player I'm going to be when this is all said and done. I'm still improving daily and there's still a lot I have to improve on. "I've seen the progress as time has gone on, so until I get to a point where I'm not getting better anymore, that's always going to be on the horizon."
Majok, who spent eight years in a Cairo refugee camp before going to Australia, told ESPN: "I was kind of dead-set on going to China, because that's where I played for a long time. "But the way they [Monastir] showed me loyalty and determination to get me went a very long way. They told me, 'Listen, you are the player we are looking for and we're not taking no for an answer'. "After a while, I thought it might be a good situation for me, because not every team out there is going to be loyal or persistent to get the players that they are looking for. "I just thought, 'Ok, let me try it out. What's the worst thing that could happen?'"
September 24, 2021 | 3:01 pm EDT Update
Skeptical teams observing the Sixers believe that the interest in reconciling with Simmons stems more from their hope to recoup a bit more trade leverage than the infinitesimal amount they currently possess rather than a genuine attempt to mend the relationship. Whatever the motivations are for trying to coax Simmons back to the squad, withholding a large seven-figure sum after a few missed practices does not sound like the wisest olive branch to extend.
The Raptors are both intent on being as competitive as they can this season and confident that more appealing trade possibilities involving Dragić will materialize after the season begins, once a potential trade partner’s need for proven playmaking becomes more acute.
The emergence earlier this month of Rosas’ consensual romantic relationship with a female team staff member, after Rosas’ tense dealings with eventual successor Sachin Gupta over a Houston offer to Gupta that he was prevented from accepting, gave Taylor the needed justifications to make the change now. Photographic evidence of Rosas in a romantic clinch with his co-worker was widely circulated across the league on Wednesday after his dismissal and promptly usurped even the Simmons situation as the No. 1 topic on the NBA grapevine.
Example: During the Las Vegas summer league, word circulated that Lore and Rodriguez would have loved to have made a run at Toronto’s Masai Ujiri to lead Minnesota’s front office. Ujiri recently signed a lucrative contract extension to stay with the Raptors — and the Wolves realistically had no shot at him — but the whispered interest only reinforces the notion that Lore and Rodriguez want to make splashy hires.