Former US President Obama joins NBA Africa as partner

Wednesday July 28 2021
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Former US President Barack Obama has joined NBA Africa as a strategic partner, advancing social responsibility efforts across the continent, the NBA announced on July 27, 2021. PHOTO/AFP

By AFP

Former US President Barack Obama has joined NBA Africa as a strategic partner, advancing social responsibility efforts across the continent, the NBA announced on Tuesday.

Obama will support programs and partnerships that provide greater gender equality and economic inclusion.

Obama will have a small equity stake in the new venture, which over time he intends to use to fund Obama Foundation youth and leadership programs across Africa, according to the league.

NBA Africa conducts league business throughout Africa, expanding the NBA's market awareness and engagement with fans across the continent while growing the game, including social responsibility initiatives.

"The NBA has always been a great ambassador for the United States—using the game to create deeper connections around the world, and in Africa, basketball has the power to promote opportunity, wellness, equality, and empowerment across the continent," Obama said in a statement.

"By investing in communities, promoting gender equality, and cultivating the love of the game of basketball, I believe that NBA Africa can make a difference for so many of Africa’s young people.

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"I've been impressed by the league's commitment to Africa, including the leadership shown by so many African players who want to give back to their own countries and communities.

"That's why I'm proud to join the team at NBA Africa and look forward to a partnership that benefits the youth of so many countries."

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In this file photo taken on March 28, 2016 US President Barack Obama jokes with former NBA basketball player Shaquille O'Neal at the annual Easter Egg Roll at the White House in Washington, DC. PHOTO/AFP

Other NBA Africa investors include former NBA standouts Grant Hill, Junior Bridgeman, Luol Deng, Ian Mahinmi, Dikembe Mutombo and Joakim Noah.

"We are honored that President Obama has become a strategic partner in NBA Africa and will support our wide-ranging efforts to grow the game of basketball on the continent," NBA commissioner Adam Silver said.

"In addition to his well-documented love for basketball, President Obama has a firm belief in Africa's potential and the enormous growth opportunities that exist through sports. NBA Africa will benefit tremendously from his engagement."

The NBA has a decades-long history in Africa and opened an African headquarters in Johannesburg in 2010. The Basketball Africa League was launched in May.

"We have ambitious growth plans for NBA Africa and having President Obama join our efforts is a recognition that through sport, Africa can take its rightful place on the world stage," NBA Africa chief executive officer Victor Williams said.

"We look forward to working with President Obama and our strategic investors to use basketball as an economic growth engine across the continent and as a platform to improve the health and wellness of one of the world’s youngest and fastest-growing populations."

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