Siakam centered on only one thought: I need to go home. James had already booked his flight to Douala, but Pascal had applied for a new visa that was still being processed. If he flew to Cameroon, there was a strong chance he would not be able to return to the U.S. without the proper paperwork. “My brothers are saying, ‘You can’t come.’ My mother says it, too,” Pascal says. New Mexico State coach Marvin Menzies, who had lost his own father two years earlier, rushed to his player’s side. He made some phone calls, but it quickly became clear Siakam’s best option would be to make the heart-wrenching decision to miss his father’s funeral. If he went home to Cameroon, he risked losing his scholarship and his future as a potential pro prospect.
Ugo Udezue was living the American basketball dream. The Lagos, Nigeria, native was an NBA agent for one of the most respected agencies, BDA Sports. The former Wyoming basketball big man’s clients included players Andre Roberson, Nene and Festus Ezeli. So why did Udezue give up being an agent to go back home? To give Africa its own NBA. “This is the best thing I have ever done in my life,” Udezue said. “This is the best decision I ever made in my life. It’s surreal. Like a dream. If someone asked me four years ago if I was moving back to Africa, I would have said no. But I’m home. And most importantly for me, I’m building an industry that never existed before. We’ve created jobs. We’ve created opportunities in just over a year of being in existence.”
The CBL is in its infancy and there has been a lot of red tape for Udezue and the league to fight through. But with Udezue’s knowledge from working as an NBA agent and being around the NBA, the CEO of the CBL is hoping to grow it into a powerful league that not only develops players in Africa but also has African team owners and employees. “The challenges were mostly political,” Udezue said. “People didn’t understand what we were trying to do. It was bucking the system. Sub-Saharan, just by heritage alone, we have the best basketball players. It’s in our DNA. With my experience in the game, I knew there was a lot of value in this region. But there was no professional basketball league because the precolonial system that has been in place didn’t make room for that when it comes to sports.
Multiple outlets have cited sources in reporting that Trump referred to Haiti and some African nations as “shithole countries” during a meeting with Republican and Democratic lawmakers this week. In a tweet on Friday morning, Trump denied using the specific term. Later in the day, Senator Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), who was present at the meeting, said the president used the word.
“This summer, I went to Kigali, and Nairobi and Lagos, and I went to Kampala and Abidjan and Dakar and Johannesburg and I saw great cities, and great people,” Ujiri told ESPN on Friday. “And I went to visit the refugee camp in Dadaab, and I met good people and good families with plenty of hope. If those places are being referred to as shitholes, go visit those places, and go meet those people. I don’t think it’s fair, and I don’t think it’s what inspiring leadership can be. What sense of hope are we giving people if you are calling where they live — and where they’re from — a shithole?”
Masai Ujiri: “I don’t know that just because someone lives in a hut, that doesn’t mean that isn’t a good person, that that person can’t do better, that person isn’t capable of being great. And just because it’s a hut – whatever that means – doesn’t mean it’s not a home. God doesn’t put anyone someplace permanently. I am a living testimony to that. If I grew up in a shithole, I am proud of my shithole.”