NBA commissioner Adam Silver says to “stay tuned” as the league is aiming to play future preseason and ultimately regular-season games in Africa.
Silver’s comments on Thursday come before league's first-ever exhibition in Africa, slated to be played at Ellis Park Arena in Johannesburg, South Africa on Saturday. The game will be televised live by ESPN at 9 a.m. ET from the 4,000 seat arena.
Silver did not say when the NBA would be looking to have a regular season game in Africa, but said that the league is on a "fast track" to build its brand on the continent.
"This is an experiment of sorts. Part of why I'm here is to continue to investigate new facilities," Silver said, according to the Associated Press. "We would want a larger, more modern arena for a regular or pre-season game here. And it's also to test the response here. These things just take time, but I'm very confident that in the not-too-distant future we will be playing, to begin with, a pre-season game on the continent of Africa."
Portland Trail Blazers forward Al-Farouq Aminu, Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, Charlotte Hornets forward Nicolas Batum are expected to compete for Team Africa, while Wizards guard Bradley Beal, Denver Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried, Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol, Chicago Bulls center Pau Gasol are some of the participants that will suit up for Team World.
"What I'd like to see is a group of some of our very best players showcasing the game, demonstrating how fun and exciting the game is," Silver said. "The players are bringing their talents direct to Johannesburg as opposed to people getting it off media."
Silver said some of the players will take trips to museums, go on a safari, visit the foundation of late South African president Nelson Mandela, and conduct coaching clinics around Johannesburg. Silver, who got married recently, said he will go on a honeymoon after the game to the east coast of Africa.
"(It's) so much more than just a game," Silver said.
- Scooby Axson