The NBA has announced the rosters for the NBA Africa Game 2017 and several Denver Nuggets are involved. Wilson Chandler will be on Team World, Emmanuel Mudiay will play for Team Africa, and Michael Malone will be on the coaching staff as well. Dikembe Mutombo, whose number finally hangs in the rafters of the Pepsi Center, will also be in attendance. Mudiay had a short quote in the article:
“Returning to Africa to play in the second NBA game on the continent is a dream come true. I’m thankful for the opportunity to participate and look forward to leading Team Africa to a win on August 5.”
This is the third annual Africa Game. Denver Stiffs’ own Andrew Feinstein was at the inaugural event in 2015 and wrote a thoughtful piece about the trip:
In 2011, my take away from the Basketball Without Borders Africa experience was how remarkable the camaraderie was among the NBA's international family - players, coaches, scouts, executives, partners and guests alike. Fall and Ujiri's global network of friends and colleagues involved in the game goes way beyond Africa, and it's a treat to see that up close. (It should be noted that the Nuggets GM Tim Connelly - a seasoned international scout himself - is beloved by everyone in this global basketball circle. Whenever I mentioned that I was from Denver someone would say something like: "Tell Tim hello for me. He's the best!")
My take away from this year's camp and the historic game that followed is that the camaraderie among this group remains at an all-time high, but something else is happening here. Africa has arrived. When the NBA can put 10 active African players on a single court (without the exceptionally talented Serge Ibaka, who is still rehabbing an injury) and have them go toe-to-toe with a collection of NBA All-Stars and near All-Stars, it's a microcosm example of where Africa stands today in the global spectrum. Africa no longer needs to apologize for being Africa, but instead can stand tall among its global peers in both business and sport.
From the tenure of former GM Masai Ujiri through that of current President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly, the Nuggets have been deeply involved in Basketball Without Borders and its evolution into this NBA Africa Game. Players, coaches and GMs from Denver all make the trip every year, and I’m glad they are at the forefront of such a phenomenal experience.
The NBA Africa Game is August 5th in Johannesburg, as Wilson Chandler was kind enough to tweet out. It should be quite the event.