The NBA has been looking to expand the game beyond North America and Europe over the last few seasons, and they’ve been identifying Africa as a place wherein interest could explode. In addition to his day job helping the Toronto Raptors remain successful, Masai Ujiri has played an integral role in this venture.
Ujiri has been a major force in the growth of the game in Africa for years, as his Giants of Africa foundation has helped build new facilities, provide gear, and develop coaching via his basketball camps. Over 100 players who have attended Ujiri’s camps have attended high school or college in America, and 25 joined junior teams in Europe.
Ujiri’s actions here are meant to generate more global interest in the game, but there is a degree of charity and altruism here. His latest move goes to show that this organization is only growing in power and influence.
Ujiri and Giants of Africa have committed to building 100 new courts all across Africa over the next few months with the goal of creating opportunities for African youth through athletics. Ujiri will appear on TV in Kenya in order to unveil his project.
Toronto Raptors GM Masai Ujiri continues to develop basketball in Africa.
Ujiri was a pivotal figure in the creation of the NBA’s Basketball Africa League (BAL). The league’s inaugural competition helped some of the best teams on the continent showcase their stuff. Anas Mahmoud even earned a Summer League tryout with Ujiri’s Raptors because of his play here.
Reportedly, more than 10 new courts will be built in Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, Burkina Faso, and Ivory Coast within the next three months.
“Since we began investing in the future of sports in Africa over the last two decades, it became clear that camps and programming were not enough to create long-term opportunities for growth in sports,” Ujiri said. “These public spaces have the power to unite communities, build togetherness and improve quality of life for all people.”
Serge Ibaka is Congolese, both Joel Embiid and Raptors star Pascal Siakam are Cameroonian, and Giannis Antetokounmpo has never been shy about honoring and embracing his Nigerian roots. The game is about to explode in Africa, and Ujiri’s humanitarian work can’t be discarded as a reason for that.
Beyond the impact this initiative has on the game, what he is doing from a humanitarian perspective should be rightfully praised. Toronto is lucky to have someone like Ujiri running the franchise.