Most times we don’t like to mix sports and politics, but in this instance, I don’t think anyone will mind.
Former President Barack Obama is multifaceted and by far was one of the coolest presidents to grace the lawn of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
While in office, he championed our causes. He made us swell with pride over his intellect and his eloquence in speech. He motivated and inspired us and made us believe that “yes, we can” achieve whatever we set our minds to achieving.
After eight years in office, we know this BO (Barack Obama) knows politics. But he also showed us that he has talents that extend far beyond the oval office.
Although his role has yet to be defined, Obama is teaming up with NBA commissioner Adam Silver and the NBA in their efforts to expand its brand in Africa.
The NBA has set up and is helping to run a partnership with the International Basketball Federation to grow its brand in the continent.
The expansion team is called Basketball Africa League and is a proposed 12-team men’s basketball league slated to begin play next year.
Amadou Gallo Fall will be the president of the new 12-team competition. The first league outside of North America for the league qualification tournaments will be held later in the year.
Players will be hailing from such countries as Angola, Egypt, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa and Tunisia.
Basketball Africa League, the International Basketball Federation and the NBA will also run the Basketball Without Borders program in Africa, whose aim is to engage young players the region with the sport.
The NBA has held three exhibition games in Johannesburg in 2015 and 2017 and in Pretoria in 2018.
Obama’s sports skills … he’s got them, too.
He entertained us with his NCAA March Madness bracket picks.
He’s played pickup basketball games with some of the best of the NBA: Carmelo Anthony, Grant Hill, LeBron James, Magic Johnson, Alonzo Mourning, Bill Russell and our beloved Dwyane Wade.
Obama even played golf with Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan.
You probably saw him courtside, high-fiving fans at the NCAA legendary rival game between the Duke Blue Devils and the North Carolina Tar Heels. He was front row and center to witness the now infamous shoe malfunction of Zion Williamson, the NBA’s projected No. 1 draft pick for 2019.
Obama is like the cool kid with whom everyone wants to hang out.
In Toronto for Game 2 of the 2019 NBA finals between the Golden State Warriors and the Toronto Raptors, we saw Silver hanging with the former President.
With the Raptors and the Warriors both having players hailing from Africa, Silver sees the opportunity and spoke prior to the NBA finals: “I think it absolutely speaks to the opportunity across the roughly 55 countries of Africa. It is one of the places we’re looking in the world where we see enormous opportunity.”
Even though Obama has left office, he is still working toward a brighter tomorrow.
This story has been updated to reflect the NBA's games in Africa and that the Basketball Africa League will start playing some time next year.