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The NBA and France Eye Global Basketball Growth

Ahead of the Bulls vs. Pistons game in Paris, the NBA and France have announced a number of initiatives to elevate the game globally.

Leading up to the Bulls vs. Pistons game in Paris on Thursday, the NBA announced a plan to collaborate with France on several initiatives to help elevate French basketball from the grassroots level to the pros.

As part of the deal, the French Government and the Association will appoint a group of senior executives to coordinate with the French Basketball Federation on plans and partnerships, which will be announced in conjunction with the 2024 Summer Olympic and Paralympic games in Paris.

“I am delighted and proud of the NBA’s choice to make France and Paris one of its privileged playgrounds in the world,” French President Emmanuel Macron said. “It reflects the special and long-standing relationship that France has with the NBA.

Amid all the hype surrounding projected 2023 No. 1 pick and French-born phenom Victor Wembanyama, the game continues to grow in The Hexagon. There have been more NBA players from France than from any other country outside North America, including nine this season.

“We’re honored to work with President Macron, the French Basketball Federation and the LNB to build on the tremendous momentum around basketball and the NBA in France,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said. “President Macron strongly believes in the power of basketball to inspire and connect people everywhere, and we see enormous potential to grow the game and drive economic opportunity around sport in France and Africa.”

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The Initiatives

The French Government and the NBA will work together to continue growing the game in France and Africa.

Here’s a few noteworthy initiatives:

  • The NBA and the LNB, France’s top professional basketball league, will share best practices across team and league business and basketball operations that will help grow the LNB and its teams, and deepen their engagement with French fans. 
  • The NBA and the LNB will also explore exhibition games and ancillary events featuring NBA, LNB and Basketball Africa League (BAL) teams and players.
  • Prior to the 2024 Summer Olympics, France and the NBA will conduct basketball development programming, interactive fan events and player appearances that will bring the NBA experience directly to fans in Paris.
  • The NBA and the French Federation of Basketball will expand existing development programming that has reached more than a quarter of a million French youth over the past decade — mostly through the Jr. NBA Challenge Benjamin(e)s program.

Hoops Growth In Africa

France and the NBA plan to further invest in basketball infrastructure in Africa, including multipurpose facilities that can host BAL and NBA games, and that will drive economic growth in communities across the continent. The NBA and the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) — France’s inclusive public development bank committed to financing and technical assistance for projects — already have an existing collaboration to promote social inclusion in Africa by developing basketball infrastructure and conducting youth basketball programs, events, and initiatives in select African countries.

“With the excellence of our training, the performance of our national teams and the hosting of the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic games, we now have the opportunity to go further and engage in a useful and lasting partnership for the benefit of French basketball, as well as in support of our development policy in Africa,” Macron said. “I am very pleased with this cooperation which will delight basketball fans and practitioners in our country and will contribute to our project to make France a great nation of sport.”

In Dec. 2021, NBA Africa introduced the “Rise Challenge,” focusing on identifying young people and providing them with opportunities, resources, and support. The program is part of a $1 billion commitment from Eric and Wendy Schmidt, and is a global initiative of Schmidt Futures and the Rhodes Trust. The process includes applicants who introduce themselves through videos with 500 finalists and 100 winners. Those who aren’t selected still get to join a global community that has access to custom educational courses, funding, and opportunities from partners around the world.

The NBA opened its African headquarters in Johannesburg, South Africa in 2010. Since then, the league’s focused on increasing access through grassroots and elite development, media distribution, corporate partnerships, NBA Africa Games, the launch of the Basketball Africa League (BAL), and more.

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About The Author
Anthony Puccio
Anthony Puccio
Anthony Puccio is a Staff Writer at Boardroom. Puccio has 10 years of experience in journalism and content creation, previously working for SB Nation, The Associated Press, New York Daily News, SNY, and Front Office Sports. In 2016, he received New York University's CCTOP scholarship and earned a bachelor's degree in Communications from St. John's University. He can be spotted a mile away thanks to his plaid suits and thick New York accent. Don't believe us? Check his Twitter @APooch.