Obama launches partnership with NBA Africa, social media drags up track record (VIDEO)
Ex-US President Barack Obama has teamed up with NBA Africa to act as a strategic planner while also becoming a minority owner, but has been accused of hypocrisy and questioned over his two-term track record in the White House.
Obama will help to advance the league's social responsibility efforts around the continent, which includes running programs dedicated to gender equality as well as economic inclusion.
"The NBA has always been a great ambassador for the United States – using the game to create deeper connections around the world, and in Africa, basketball has the power to promote opportunity, wellness, equality, and empowerment across the continent," said Obama.
"By investing in communities, promoting gender equality, and cultivating the love of the game of basketball, I believe that NBA Africa can make a difference for so many of Africa’s young people."
Obama also said that he always believed basketball was "more than just a game", and that one thing he has always loved about it "is the fact that it brings people together and empowers young people everywhere".
In a lengthy three-minute video that showed old photos of him as a hoops-loving youngster, the 59-year-old descent explained that he received his first basketball as a gift from his father aged 10.
Like many other youngsters, he revealed, Obama harbored dreams of reaching the NBA. And although he never had the talent to play at the highest level, basketball still "shaped" his life.
By holding a minority equity stake in the endeavor, he intends to use it to fund his Obama Foundation youth and leadership programs around Africa.
Even before his involvement, NBA Africa had already launched a series of social responsibility initiatives to raise awareness of gender-based violence, championing girls' education on the continent and improving the lives of African youngsters and their families.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said that the league was "honored" to have Obama join the cause in their efforts "to grow the game of basketball" in this part of the world.
Not everyone shared such enthusiasm, however.
Detractors were quick to remind Obama of accusations that he "destroyed black wealth" and the US economy during his two terms from 2008 to 2016.
Use the guy who destroyed an African Nation for 10 years that resulted in slave markets to be a strategic partner is not a good a idea.— Samus Aran’s Sidekick (@DHeathen999) July 28, 2021
Isn't he the person who stopped an NBA strike?— James Stover (@James_R_Stover) July 28, 2021
"[To] use the guy who destroyed an African Nation for 10 years [which] resulted in slave markets to be a strategic partner is not a good idea," it was also pointed out, as another party asked, "Isn't he the person who stopped an NBA strike?" of a furor in 2020.
Threatening to abandon that year's playoffs due to the police shooting of Jacob Blake, black players such as LeBron James and Chris Paul reportedly only returned to the courts after a phone call from Obama.