Fall to lead new Basketball Africa League

Amadou Gallo Fall will be named the president of the NBA’s new Basketball Africa League Tuesday, Fall told ESPN’s The Undefeated.

Fall is currently the NBA vice president and managing director for Africa. The Senegal native will begin his role as Basketball Africa League (BAL) president immediately while aiding in the transition and hiring of a new managing director of NBA Africa. BAL is a new professional basketball league showcasing 12 teams from different leagues across Africa scheduled to begin play in 2020.

“I am extremely excited about the opportunity,” Fall said. “I am grateful for the trust that NBA commissioner Adam Silver and deputy commissioner Mark Tatum have given me to lead this new initiative for the NBA in Africa that is also affiliated with FIBA. We’re looking forward to getting it off the ground. We’re working closely with FIBA to build a compelling property. There is tremendous opportunity to grow the game of basketball in Africa, which is why we opened our office in 2010.

“In the close to 10 years that we’ve been on the ground, we’ve made a lot of progress. We have a robust grassroots infrastructure.”

BAL is the first basketball league operated by the NBA outside of North America. Its arrival was announced by Fall during the NBA All-Star 2019 Africa Luncheon in Charlotte on Feb. 16. BAL will begin with the top professional clubs from leagues in Angola, Egypt, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa and Tunisia. Teams will travel to one site at a time to compete in a set number of games, a source previously told The Undefeated.

Nearly 45 games total are expected to be played in the BAL beginning in January 2020, concluding with a championship game in March. Champions from six leagues will make up half of the teams while the other 12 will be chosen by FIBA. Fall called the BAL “the missing link” for the NBA in Africa.

“We’re looking forward to now building the entire ecosystem,” Fall said. “And that is what we think the Basketball Africa League is going to allow us to do in continuing to provide tremendous young talent across the continent to showcase themselves. We need to continue to grow to create an entertainment property for our fans across the Africa region.”

Tatum has previously described BAL as an African basketball version of popular “Champions League” in European soccer. He also touted Fall as a great choice to run BAL.

“Amadou’s efforts to grow basketball and the NBA’s business across Africa have been extraordinary, and he is an ideal choice to lead the Basketball Africa League,” Tatum said in a statement obtained by ESPN’s The Undefeated. “This historic initiative will not only further enhance the game in Africa but also provide new opportunities in media, technology and infrastructure on the continent.”

Fall first was hired by the NBA in January of 2010 to lead efforts to open the NBA’s office in Johannesburg, South Africa, in May 2010. The former University of District of Columbia center also led efforts for the NBA’s grassroots basketball development initiatives and partnerships with marketing, media and consumer product companies in Africa and with the Jr. NBA and Basketball Without Borders program in Africa. Under Fall’s guidance, NBA Africa games in Johannesburg in 2015 and 2017 and in Pretoria in 2018 have all been sold out while supporting such charities as UNICEF, the Nelson Mandela Foundation and SOS Children’s Villages South Africa.

With Fall leading the way, the NBA expects to reach more than 2.5 million boys and girls ages 16 and under through Jr. NBA programs in 21 African countries.

“The game is growing in Africa and the interest will continue to rise,” Fall said.

Fall previously worked for the Dallas Mavericks as director of player personnel and vice president of international affairs. The magna cum laude graduate of a historically black college and university was inducted into the UDC Athletics Hall of Fame on Feb. 15. Fall also founded the SEED (Sports for Education and Economic Development) project in Senegal in 1998 and the SEEDs Academy.

Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer Dikembe Mutombo called Fall “a son of the continent” and an outstanding hire to run BAL.

“I am so excited for my brother, my friend and my colleague,” Mutombo, a former NBA star from the Republic of Congo, told The Undefeated. “He is someone that I’ve known for a long time, for 30-plus years. We have worked extremely hard to change the game in the continent of Africa. It’s a great decision on behalf of the NBA to appoint someone who is the son of the continent who has seen basketball develop in the continent. He has participated in the growing of the game and making sure every kid gets access to the game.

“We now have all the tools necessary to help kids become better basketball players. By him taking over this job, it’s just the new beginning of the great success to come.”

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