NBA Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer, Mark Tatum has disclosed that Nigeria has been an important market for NBA for decades and will remain so.
Speaking at a media round table hosted by NBA Africa at the Wheatbaker in Lagos, Tatum said: “While we just opened an office here this year, Nigeria has been an important market for the NBA for decades, dating back to when Hall of Famers, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Oscar Robertson hosted basketball clinics here in 1971.
“You cannot overstate the incredible basketball talent from Nigeria and its impact on the league. From Hakeem Olajuwon, who was selected with the number one pick in the 1984 NBA Draft, to six Nigerian players on NBA rosters this season, to two-time NBA Most Valuable Player Giannis Antetokounmpo, who is of course of Nigerian descent,” Tatum noted.
“We opened an office in Lagos because we believe there is enormous opportunity ahead for the NBA in Nigeria and because the continued growth of basketball here can be a catalyst for the rest of the continent. We want to help accelerate the growth of basketball and help develop an environment in which, the Nigerian youth has a predictable pathway to learn the game and maximize their potential,” he said.
For NBA Africa VP and Country Head for Nigeria, Gbemisola Abudu: “When we’re saying that we are investing in Nigeria, that’s exactly what we’re doing. We’re investing from a human capacity standpoint, making sure that our fans get to experience the NBA. It’s very significant and it shows our commitment to the country.”
The NBA executives reiterated their commitment to providing more boys and girls in Nigeria with more opportunities to learn the fundamentals and core values of the game, and help grow and strengthen the Nigerian basketball ecosystem.
Also speaking, NBA Africa CEO, Victor Williams said the fact that the NBA Deputy Commissioner is here this week, along with a delegation of other NBA executives, speaks of their our continued commitment to growing the game of basketball in Nigeria, strengthening the basketball ecosystem, connecting with our fans and building up the NBA brand and activities in Nigeria.
“Nigeria already makes a significant contribution to the NBA in terms of players, coaches, executives and leaders at all levels,” he stated.
Present at the media roundtable was BAL President, Amadou Gallo Fall, who stated that the second BAL season was broadcast in 215 countries and featured 12 of the top club teams from across the continent, a demonstration of how much talent and passion there is for basketball in Africa.