Most of the best nba players today, grew up in the hood. They used basketball as a platform by which they could rise above and away from poverty. You pretty much know that Africa is poverty strucken relative to Europe or America. Already the greatest influx in football (soccer) talent comes from Africa. In the 80s it was all Brazilians, and South Americans but nowadays the continent of Africa is the biggest provider of talent for the biggest sport on the planet.
I lived in Africa for 18 years, in many countries and I cannot reiterate just how blessed genetically they are for the game of basketball. I'm not segregating, I am making factual statements based on my experience when I say that all of the physical tools you look for in basketball are possessed by Africans in general. Having gone to school in 10 different countries in Africa, and 15 different schools, I couldn't help but notice just how every time I would shake an african's hand or hive five them, that their hands were so fleshy and soft. This is a very desired upon trait in basketball especially for players who catch passes. A fleshy and soft hand will make the ball collide with your hand inelastically, like a bouncing ball in sand rather than have it bounce off because of having a hard hand.
They have extremely long arms. Which is a very desired upon trait as well. Nearly every black NBA player has at least half a foot or more in difference between arm span and height. Most Western, South Western Africans as well as a few eastern ones are just massive. They have incredible physiques some of which is inherited, which is important in the NBA because it is a physical sport.
Go to Sudan, or in the Masai region of Kenya and you will see some villages have mean male adult heights of at least 2m (6 foot 6 and a half). I once went to the Masai Mara and the guy who cooked scrambled eggs at our lodge was 7 foot 1 (a masaii) who ceremoniously did their jumping ritual and I couldn't believe the guy had a 30+ inch vertical. These guys have narrow shoulders placed high up, (little neck) with extremely long arms. So when you think of their actual armspan, a lot of it is arms, and they have ridiculous standing reaches.
They are ridiculously fast, and have so much stamina, there was once a local schools tournament in Zambia which I went to where the track and field event was the craziest thing I have ever seen. The 100m events had its second round featuring 3 races with 26 guys in total, who were all 18-19 and had times in the 11 seconds, with at least 6 guys going in the 10s. These are high school kids doing this. When I was in Kenya, we played a game against the best school in the country Laiser Hill Academy and some of the students in the audience were eastbaying when we arrived on the court. Their players were all NBA height.
All this may sound like just another life story told by another guy, but there is a reason I am saying it. You see, most of these kids have very little access to television. If they do, it is to watch football (soccer). They are so obsessed with it, but you are now seeing a similar rise in popularity in other sports, namely rugby and basketball. This is because of how the increasing availability of technology has allowed it to be easier for these sports to be streamed to kids. And believe me they get captivated and pick up fast. I once went to a local school as part of my community service assignment and happened to have my laptop with me. When I was there, for the lunch break I decided to watch Lebron's highlights against Orlando in the playoffs of 2008-2009. Over 50 kids came around the laptop behind me to watch with me and exclaimed in amazement at this play and that move. When I was done I saw them air dribble and jump as a group collectively, with 1 of them saying "we want to be like him so we are jumping to be strong." I just discovered today from my old school that this school i visited a few years ago, got to build a basketball court and already had 2 kids sent to play for the second best highs chool in the country upper hill academy.
I think that if there was more media activity used to spread the popularity of basketball as well as more investment taken in NBA Africa projects, that the rewards would be stupendous. These kids are not influenced to be firefighters or policemen like we were when we were young, they all want to be footballers. If you get to get the same aspirations towards basketball from this continent with 700million people, you will have a super talent pool to saturate the watered down talent in the league today. These kids will take it more seriously than others, they have no distractions, they cannot afford video games, they cannot afford toys, they (the rural kids) are too poor for drugs and partying etc. Expect to see Africa in the future supply the NBA profusely.
I've honestly been waiting for Africa to start breaking out and supplying ton of athletes to our pro sports, but I think their main problem is like tiberius (awesome name) said: they have no access to anything but soccer and even then it's minimal.
If Africa's governments weren't so corrupt, they would pump money into a nationwide program that goes around the respective country and finds good prospects for football, basketball, soccer, etc. and then sends them to one of the top school or to another country. But, as we are starting to find out in America, corruptness always wins if the majority are unable/unwilling to stand up to it.
first of all I want to say I am African myself (Egyptian)
And here are few things
1-Africa still doesn't produce the greatest talents in Soccer ,South Americans and Europe still holds the owner
Only Weah won best player in the world and that was over 17 years ago
2-Usually for a sport to shine you need a great pool of talent , Which means gr8 popularity and good general physical tools for the game and in a game like basketball that means height, athleticism long arms
one surprising note,Africans are actually short
Look at average height in South Africa(south),Nigeria (west) Egypt (north east) and compare it the Black Americans,and the comparison gets worse with European for sure
As for popularity ,here is the thing ,Africa is more about Soccer ,that was heavily influenced by some Stars back in between late 1970's and early 90's all over the content
only country that Basketball is the most popular sport is Angola ,and they are dominant here
I think it will take 1 NBA superstar who decides to play for his own African country to build such high popularity,As much as i love Hakeem as gr8 player I still feel a little bitter that he didn't play with Nigeria (though I don't know the reasons) as he might have changed the game for ever if he has done that ,you have to remember doing something with the NT is what it counts here ,not just what you do abroad ,Once a great player play with his NT and lead them to some glory( win ACN or make some little noise in world cup ) it will help the game drastically
it is said that those who sticked to their NT were the bust like Thabeet,Diop&Biymbo
I agree with Khaled_a_d.
1.Brazil is still the biggest supplier of soccer players. I'm Southamerican and we breathe soccer over there.
2. If we take a close look in Europe, countries with the tallest people like the Netherlands, Norway or Denmark don't produce much basketball talent, because they have a preference for soccer (or other sports). I think the same happens in most African countries.
They don't produce much basketball talent because basketball is not popular there. But with globalization clubs from other parts of europe started scouting Scandinavian coutries and rest of "non basketball" countries and there are more and more prospects from those countries in big clubs yuth programs. I expect Czech Repablic, Denmark and Sweden to become good teams in next 10 years and in 20-30 who knows how it will look- Also in those countries Handball and Hockey is very popular, and handball is anothers sport where size mathers
Imo, tallest people in europe are Dinarids, from Dinaric alps located in former Yugoslavia. On this rocky moutins lives anly small part of full population in former Yugoslavia, but 95% basketball players of former Yugoslavian countries are from those rocky land where average male population is 6'1. Luckly basketball become popular here back in 70is so aside fom USA this region produces bigest number of basketball players in world.
When it comes to Africa I aredy said it. Basketball is very "unfair" sport where athletic and tall people have huge edge. Philipinse are crazy for basketball, but their bodys are just not built for basketball besides few exceptions
With better life conditions and basketball conditions Countries with tall and athletic population would dominate world basketball just like African Americans dominate today
Only God knows how manny Shaqs, Jordans, Lebrons or Olajuwons we alredy missed it becuse there are no proper life conditions and basketball conditions there.
Yeah and 1 thing that most of these governments aren't realizing is jut how helpful to their own nation these players can be. Most of these soccer players from Africa have had the entire village behind them to grow as an athlete. Once they make it in Europe they give back to their village, they send some money back to the village. This nationwide money transfer in a way alows Africa to have Human capital as a major export. Sending gifted athletes abroad to get money back is something their governments should consider
i dont want to be racist here but i read somewhere that the reason blacks outside of africa are usually more athletic than those in africa because of the slave trade since they chose the strongest ones to take as slaves. they gave like olympics and other forms of international competition as evidence but of course im sure africa does not have the facilities to help their people train like other countries do. i dont know just food for thought
This is such great insight. I made a post months ago asking nbadraft users like yourself that live outside of America how is basketball in their respective countries. Information like this is surely revealing and if the residents of Africa are as physically gifted as you say, then it will be only a matter of time when Africa is a big supplier of athletes, especially with the recent success of players of Serge Ibaka, Luol Deng and even Bismack Biyambo being a top-10 draft pick last year off of potential alone.
^^^Those guys might be helping the idea of scouts going their trying to get some talents,but they aren't making the sport popular ,outside the USA I would bet a lot of people would prefer a National team success than having a player or two playing in the NBA.that is what will get people attention ,fact is that Ibaka is playing for Spain Deng for England ,Bismack isn't showing he can curry his own african team for some success (same that happened with Diop and Thabeet)
As I said ,the game would get best served if an African star player decided that he will play with the NT ,help them to e a decent team at least
Good food for thougt too, but I would not call today's talent Watered Down. I think thats kinda crazy, no doubt it would make the pool bigger, but there is still more talent then ever and it is coming from everywhere. I am all for extending the boarders of basketball, and bringing the sport to countries that will enjoy it. But, I can't see them being better then the European players in the near future, or even South America. Not to say they can't, but I have to believe it will develope in a some what similar fashion as Europe. They will slowly become more relevent and talented. I would say it could be at the min twenty years before they profusely supply to the NBA......I hate to dog on you, but there is such a disatvantage currently, whether its money or opportunity.
I do believe current NBA players that are from Africa are involved, doing good and are bringing change, all I am trying to say it will take time.
Very interesting. I'm Nigerian and have thought this over for some time. I moved to America when I was 7 and had no idea what basketball was, even though i'd heard the name Michael Jordan in passing before moving here (shows how big he was). Even though it later became a huge part of my life, I often thought about the fact that soccer likely would have been the only sport I'd ever played if I hadn't made the move here.
With what the development of European basketball has shown, I think you're right on the money saying that media exposure is the best way to help the game grow in Africa. The Dream Team's dominance and aura when they came to Barcelona seemed to play a huge part in increasing the desire of European youngsters to develop to the highest level, case in point the story of a young Pau Gasol watching the team up close, later saying how much it inspired him.
Since it doesn't appear that the Olympics will be in Africa in the near future, the next best thing would be to have a native country have a really strong showing on the world stage. Despite the way Nigeria was destroyed by Team USA this past summer, I think they have a chance to improve greatly by 2016. I haven't confirmed this, but if i'm not mistaken, I read that Victor Oladipo and Jahlil Okafor are both of Nigerian descent. If true, although they would have to endure a process to attain citizenship if they desired, the addition of two likely pro's to an already solid roster that will only improve over the next 3 years would go a long way to making the game a stronger presence in that nation. That's just one example, but my point is the younger generations will need more to admire for the game to really explode there in my opinion.
I always wanted to be like Kevin Bacon in the Air up There and go to Africa to recruit and then end up joining the tribe and being a hero in the big African game.