Break out the vuvuzelas? NBA commissioner Adam Silver announced the league plans to play a preseason and a regular-season game in South Africa in the near future. The NBA is currently revving up for its first exhibition game on the continent, which Silver characterized as an “experiment," but there has been no set time frame.
"Part of why I'm here is to continue to investigate new facilities," Silver said. "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."
Stars like the Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul and Miami Heat forward Luol Deng arrived in Johannesburg Wednesday ahead of Team Africa’s matchup against Team World on Saturday. The game will benefit the Nelson Mandela Foundation, the Boys & Girls Club of South Africa, and SOS Children’s Villages Association of Africa.
Team Africa captain Deng, originally from the Sudan, told reporters what the matchup and the league’s potential expansion to the soccer-crazed continent means to him and his teammates.
"For us, it means a lot. We're finally having a game here," Deng said. "It's a huge step forward."
The matchup will take place at Ellis Park Arena, which can hold only 4,000 spectators, but Silver said he hopes fans can see the beauty of the game and develop an appreciation.
"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."
Deng is joined by Al-Farouq Aminu, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Nicolas Batum, Bismack Biyombo, Boris Diaw, Gorgui Deng, Festus Ezeli, Luc Mbah a Moute, and Serge Ibaka.
With Paul leading the way, Team World includes Bradley Beal, Jeff Green, Marcus Smart, Kenneth Faried, Evan Turner, Marc and Pau Gasol, and Nikola Vucevic.