It’s now just over a week since the NBA Africa Game 2017 took place in Johannesburg, South Africa and the feeling of excitement still lingers. Yes, Team World beat Team Africa for the second time in successive Africa Games, but the experience of seeing NBA Stars in the flesh on African soil makes the loss sting less. There were very many great moments in the week leading up to the game as well as during the game itself. Here are five moments that stood out in the week of the NBA Africa Game:
Players inspire youth and vice versa
There is nothing like seeing the joy on the young faces of the boys and girls who took part in the Basketball Without Borders Africa camp leading up to the game. However, there was a similar glint in the eye when you saw the players interact with the youngsters. It was a shared emotional connection as those who’d already found success in the NBA and WNBA imparted their knowledge and experience to the campers, who were more than eager to learn and dream about their own future achievements.
Jr. NBA Africa Festival grows the love of the game
The Jr. NBA Africa Festival took place in Phokeng, Rustenburg and ran concurrently with the Basketball Without Borders camp. It was a celebration of the sport of basketball and a chance for children from across the African continent to learn to love the game. The young players got to show their skills and to live their love of basketball in front of some NBA stars, no less.
Community outreach programs touch hearts
One of the most important facets of the NBA’s interactions on the African continent is giving back. Star players, coaches, support staff and executives got their hands dirty as they built homes with Habitat for Humanity in Orange Farm. Then they all got to interact with children in need at the SOS Children’s Village in Ennerdale. The NBA really cares about its legacy and the organization’s ability to positively impact the lives of the less fortunate. These were special moments that everyone in attendance loved.
Game Day vibes
The atmosphere in the Ticketpro Dome was electric as the fans streamed in and then took their seats as the NBA’s stars shone bright. With greats from various sporting codes in attendance, the arena was humming with excitement. Former Zimbabwe swimming star and multiple Olympic medallist Kirsty Coventry numbered amongst the fans taking it all in. Former Arsenal, Barcelona and Juventus football star Thierry Henry was there and received huge cheers when on screen. Dikembe Mutombo also got a lot of love as he led a contingent of NBA greats.
Big plays and breath-taking moments
Victor Oladipo started it all with an alley-oop dunk that got everyone out of their seats. Jaylen Brown bookended the game with a monster jam to close out proceedings. In-between those two dunks were circus shots, long-distance 3-pointers, classy passes and on-court entertainment making the day extra special. The players enjoyed themselves and put on a show for the arena fans and those watching across the continent through Kwesé Sports’ various platforms. Global NBA fans were given a treat as the players weren’t afraid to try the sublime in this exhibition game. Africa Game 2017 delivered loads of thrills and will linger long in the memory. There will be more to come.
By Cyrus Rogers
@cyrusjrogers on Twitter