Africa: Transcript of NBA Commissioner Adam Silver's Press Conference at NBA All-Star 2020 (Saturday February 15, 2020)
We are launching our Basketball Africa League with 12 teams on March 13th in Senegal
QUESTION: Adam, I just want to ask you what are your expectations for the Basketball Africa League? And when you have three starters from that continent, what does it say about the potential pipeline of talent coming from there?
ADAM SILVER: Thanks for asking. So we are launching our Basketball Africa League with 12 teams on March 13th in Senegal. I would say we're hugely excited about that. There's been a lot of discussion around that this weekend. In fact, we had a luncheon today devoted to announcing the early markets and showing the new uniforms. I'd say I'm personally very excited about it, that you think about the growth of sort of the interest from Africa in the league over the years, that's sort of the modern history back to 1984 - Hakeem Olajuwon being drafted until today, where it's hard to imagine but 40 players either born in Africa or one of their parents were born in Africa. So we have tremendous talent coming from the continent, as well as tremendous interest. So it's a market where the league has spent a lot of time over the years. It's actually the tenth anniversary of when we opened our office in Johannesburg, and we see great opportunity. I think this is just yet another area where, back to what I was talking about, Kobe and him being at the advent of the Internet, this is sort of the really truly transformational nature of digital media, where now you have in Africa an estimated 700 million cell phones, and I think the last I looked, 450 million or so of those phones are smartphones. So you now have the ability of people throughout Africa to stream our games. So we think there's enormous interest in the NBA, and part of growing this interest in basketball, we think you do need games in market on the ground. So what's being described as a league is, I think, by sort of U.S. sports parlance, could also be called a tournament because we're taking 12 existing club teams and, in essence, sort of Champions League like, where that's called a league, it's really a tournament of existing teams, and scheduling competition, together with our partners FIBA, over the course of several months. I'm enormously excited about it. Again, I think it will serve as stand-alone programming, but will also serve as a pipeline into the NBA as well.
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