Barack Obama Helps NBA Expand to Africa
President Barack Obama will be part of a partnership with the NBA and the international basketball organization FIBA to create a basketball league in Africa. Obama’s role has not yet been made public, but he is expected to take an active role. The NBA announced Saturday that it plans for the 12-team league to be launched in January 2020, bringing existing teams into one pan-continental competition in a move that would raise the profile of the game in Africa and bring increased funding opportunities. Existing teams will compete for inclusion in the league, with teams from Angola, Egypt, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, and Tunisia taking part, and no more than two teams per country permitted to take part in the league. Obama tweeted, “I’ve always loved basketball because it’s about building a team that’s equal to more than the sum of its parts. Glad to see this expansion into Africa because for a rising continent, this can be about a lot more than what happens on the court.” The NBA has invested heavily in Africa in recent years, launching the Giants of Africa and Basketball without Borders programs, and an academy in Senegal, according to the AP. “The Basketball Africa League is an important next step in our continued development of the game of basketball in Africa," NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement Saturday. "Combined with our other programs on the continent, we are committed to using basketball as an economic engine to create new opportunities in sports, media and technology across Africa." This news comes as the former president is reportedly counseling 2020 hopefuls. The NYT reports that Obama continues to express frustration that he did not anticipate Donald Trump’s victory even after years of clashing with the forces of right-wing populism as president. He has urged candidates to push back on Trump’s bleak and divisive rhetoric about economic change, and to deliver a competing message that can resonate even in Republican-leaning areas, courting rural voters and other communities that tend to distrust Democrats. He has urged candidates to avoid attacking each other in bitterly personal terms that could help Trump. He has also hinted that he sees a relatively open space for a more moderate Democrat, given the abundance of hard-charging liberals in the race. More here.