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Obama's Next Gig Involves African Basketball League

Exact scope of former president's role with NBA-backed league not yet clear
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 18, 2019 11:22 AM CST
Then-Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., plays basketball in Elkhart, Ind., on May 4, 2008.   (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

(Newser) – Barack Obama famously loves basketball, and now the former president will get to love it in an official capacity. The NBA and FIBA, the sport's international governing body, are partnering to create a professional basketball league in Africa, and the AP reports that Obama is expected to have "direct involvement." The Basketball Africa League (BAL), featuring 12 teams, is planning qualifying tournaments later this year and an official debut next year. Obama on Saturday retweeted the NBA's tweet about the league's formation, writing, "I've always loved basketball because it's about building a team that's equal to more than the sum of its parts. Glad to see this expansion into Africa because for a rising continent, this can be about a lot more than what happens on the court."

The Washington Post reports it's still not clear exactly what Obama's role will be; the AP says he's expected to be involved with "the league's plan to keep growing the game in Africa through the league and other initiatives." The NBA's tweet about the league featured a video in which Obama is heavily featured, appearing in clips from his 2018 Kenya trip during which he took part in a basketball event to benefit his half-sister's foundation. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said other "partners of the NBA" are interested to work with the BAL, including Michael Jordan. As Silver noted to the Undefeated, "There are a lot of young players in Africa who know about the success of Mutombo but don't understand how to pursue those opportunities." (Read more Barack Obama stories.)

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