Amadou Fall Rumors
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.”
The Basketball Africa League (BAL) plans to debut on May 16 in Kigali, Rwanda. Led by BAL president Amadou Fall, the league, which includes 12 teams from across Africa, will play 26 games, all at Kigali Arena. The BAL was initially expected to debut on March 13, 2020, beginning in Dakar, Senegal, but was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. The BAL, which is a partnership between the NBA and the International Basketball Federation, includes club teams from African countries such as Algeria, Angola, Cameroon, Egypt, Madagascar, Mali, Morocco, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal and Tunisia. It is the NBA’s first collaboration to operate a league outside of North America.
Basketball Africa League president Amadou Fall said he is still hopeful the NBA’s new 12-team league will debut this year after recently being delayed because of concerns about the coronavirus. The NBA planned to debut the Basketball Africa League (BAL) March 13 in Dakar, Senegal, but announced the postponement Tuesday.
“There is a lot of excitement for this historic league, but you have to adjust to the circumstances,” Fall told The Undefeated in a phone interview from Dakar. “We are delaying because it’s a global circumstance that makes this sporting event and the events surrounding it secondary. We put the health of our committed teams and everyone at large first. We’d love to tip-off, but we respect the circumstances and will pick another date. I don’t want to speculate on a date. But our intention is to launch as soon as circumstances permit. We didn’t cancel the league. We delayed it.”
Why start an entire league in Africa? “This is by no means an exercise of coming in and plucking away talent,” Basketball Africa League President Amadou Gallo Fall told USA TODAY Sports. “We do not want to just see African talent only being exported because there is no viable league for young players to participate at a high level. This ultimately led to the formation of the African basketball league.”
Fall said the goal of creating this league in Africa is not only to expose and invest in the local talent there but to create an entire system that allows a league to run efficiently from the ground up. It will also create jobs within the countries. It’s been decades in the making. “When we started, we did not skip any steps … after the (Basketball Without Borders) camps raised awareness, we began being more intentional about building more opportunities,” Fall said. “The NBA is a lifestyle brand that we are going to establish in Africa.”