Raptors' Masai Ujiri Excited About Upcoming African League
The creation of the Basketball Africa League in '20 that will be jointly run by the NBA and FIBA marks another step in Raptors President Masai Ujiri's "dream about the growth of the game," according to Doug Smith of the TORONTO STAR. Ujiri said, "It's going to open up so many things. It is so important. ... This league will really enhance the game on the continent." Ujiri, who was born in Nigeria, likely will have "some role in the new league." He has long advocated for what "sport can add to African society," and he has worked with the NBA's Basketball Without Borders program "since its inception more than a decade ago." Smith noted the Raptors' "ties with African basketball go beyond Ujiri," as MLSE Chair Larry Tanenbaum "has long been a supporter of the NBA's African initiatives and played a role in the formation of the new league" (TORONTO STAR, 2/20). ESPN's Anthony Olivieri notes Ujiri "doesn't have an official position with the league but says that he's involved and helps when and where he can." He noted that logistics for the league, like "where and when games will be played and how the teams will be formed," are still being decided. Ujiri compared the effort to the G League, which "started from scratch and has built both a usefulness and a reputation" (ESPN.com, 2/22).
LOOKING TO BE PART OF THINGS: In Johannesburg, Refiloe Seiboko noted the BAL will be comprised of 12 teams from across the continent, but South Africa has "little chance of being part" during the inaugural season due to issues with Basketball South Africa and the country's pro league. However, NBA VP & Managing Dir for Africa Amadou Gallo Fall said that South Africa "could end up hosting one of the franchises because of the serious arena infrastructure challenges faced by many African nations." The country has hosted "all three NBA Africa Games" to date (MAIL & GUARDIAN, 2/20).