When it comes to being a progressive league, the NBA is above everyone else. During NBA All-Star Weekend,  NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced the launch of the Basketball Africa League, a 12-team competition consisting of teams across the continent in conjunction with FIBA.

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Silver, speaking at the NBA Africa luncheon, also said the former President Barack Obama, whose father was born in Africa, will be involved in an as-of-yet unknown capacity with the league.

The new league, which will be called the Basketball Africa League, or BAL, is scheduled to play in January 2020.


“The Basketball Africa League is an important next step in our continued development of the game of basketball in Africa,” Silver said in a statement. “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.”

The league will feature squads from Angola, Egypt, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, and Tunisia. Qualification tournaments will be held later this year to determine the inaugural participants.

The NBA has heavily invested in Africa with programs such as Basketball Without Borders and Giants of Africa in addition to having an office in South Africa and academy in Senegal. Since the end of his presidency in 2017, President Obama has helped Toronto Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri, who hails from Nigeria, with the Giants of Africa youth basketball program.

The 12 team league, is the virtual next step for the NBA to remind everyone that basketball is indeed a global game.