NBA's Africa League to debut May 16
The NBA's Basketball Africa League will make its long-awaited debut with a 12-team tournament beginning May 16 in Kigali, Rwanda.
Why it matters: The NBA's attempt at operating a league outside of North America is part of a long-term plan to make the league synonymous with competitive basketball around the world.
The big picture: The BAL will strengthen the NBA's talent pipeline in Africa, which has already produced over 80 current and former players, including 2021 MVP candidate Joel Embiid (Cameroon).
- It will also help foster a more robust basketball landscape in Africa itself, with players not just dreaming of going abroad, but also of making a name for themselves in Africa.
- The NBA has hosted Basketball Without Borders camps throughout Africa since 2003, opened an official league office in South Africa in 2010 and built a training academy in Senegal in 2017.
The bottom line: The NBA has spent the last 25 years importing a surge of international talent — now it hopes to benefit by exporting the brand those global stars have helped build.