Africa holds over 1.2 billion people. It is home to many diverse nations, each part of the colourful collage of contrasts that makes the continent so unique. But while this rich landscape is brimming with worlds apart, basketball has managed to bring them all together. Read on to learn how basketball is shaking things up in Africa, and discover the top African athletes who play for the NBA.
Basketball in Africa
Basketball provides an important entertainment outlet for people worldwide, and draws in some of the most loyal supporters around. Fans might travel miles to attend a game, cheering wildly from the stands as they strive to catch a glimpse of the action. Some like to stay connected by watching television broadcasts, and some get even more invested by making bets. It’s easy to find NBA betting odds online, and wagering helps add an extra level of excitement to the whole experience.
For African players and fans, the thrills are already palpable. That’s because basketball isn’t merely recreational—the NBA has created a career path for potential players andinstituted progress for the whole continent. Organisations like the African NBA Academy provide economic growth and transformative opportunities for talented youth. At the same time,NBA initiatives and African stars contribute funding for much-needed community assets like hospitals and schools.
Perhaps just as importantly, athletes who have managed to make it into the NBA also spread a message of hope to people across Africa. They exemplify that hard work and determination can pay off in the end, inspiring newer generations of African youth to fight for their own dreams.
Top African NBA Stars
So, which African players stand out the most? While dozens of athletes have made the NBA roster, only a few have gone down in history. Here are some of the most well-recognized players around:
- Pascal Siakam: Toronto Raptors power forward Pascal Siakam is a beacon of achievement. Not only did Siakam manage to snag the NBA Most Improved Player Award in 2019, but he also helped the Raptors to a championship title in the same year. He later went on to win an NBA Cares Community Assist Award for his work to empower youth in underdeveloped communities, and was named an NBA All-Star in 2020.
- Joel Embiid: Philadelphia 76ers centre Joel Embiid was born in Cameroon, but moved to the US at age 16 to realize his dreams of playing in the NBA. After receiving four separate All-Star selections and a myriad of Player of the Week honours, Embiid has more than earned his place among the stars.
- Giannis Antetokounmpo: Antetokounmpo is a record-breaking Milwaukee Bucks forward and could very well be the most famous African NBA player around. He won Defensive Player of the Year in 2020 and went on to win MVP the same year. This earned him the richest NBA contract in the league’s history,helping the Nigerian-descended“Greek Freak” attain legendary status.
Future of Basketball in Africa
Basketball in Africa has enriched many lives already, but there’s even more excitement on the horizon. The NBA’s official Basketball Africa League (BAL) has been launched, and their first season concluded in Rwanda with resounding success. BAL features top athletes from around the continent and has garnered attention from huge corporate sponsors like Nike and Pepsi.
So far, sponsorships and earnings have been quite lucrative. As funds come in, BAL and the NBA have already begun to give back to the community. With programs like the Gender Equality Initiative and the Food Project, these organizations are helping empower and strengthen Africa as a whole.
Basketball is a vital part of Africa’s future. As the NBA and BAL help to build a better life for citizens across the continent, the game becomes more than a simple form of entertainment. It’s a lifestyle of community engagement, providing opportunity for the people who need it most.