America’s popular National Basketball Association (NBA) has finally opened a new office in Nairobi in a move expected to expands its presence and the growth of basketball in Kenya, East Africa and entire Africa.
The significant move comes two months after Kenya government signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with NBA focusing on the development of basketball in the country.
NBA announced the opening of the new office located in Westlands on its official social media pages on Wednesday sending basketball players and enthusiasts into a frenzy on what this portends.
The NBA Kenya office will support all of the league’s business and basketball development initiatives in the country and will be led by NBA Kenya Senior Director and Country Operations Lead Michael Finley.
The office is the fifth to be opened in Africa after Cairo, Egypt; Dakar, Senegal; Johannesburg, South Africa; and Lagos, Nigeria and puts Kenya at the center of basketball growth initiatives by the very competitive US league.
The MOU was inked on September 22, 2023 by Sports CS Ababu Namwamba at an event witnessed by President William Ruto on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York.
The MOU with NBA was aimed at facilitating the growth of basketball infrastructure in Kenya and develop an elite-level arena with the capacity to host high-level competitions.
It also focused on growing school and community-based grassroots talent under the Talanta Hela Initiative, including training of teachers as certified basketball coaches and scouts.
The deal was signed by Namwamba and NBA Africa CEO Victor Williams in New York and witnessed by Ruto, together with Toronto Raptors Vice Chairman and President Masai Ujiri, Basketball Africa League President Amadou Fall and Former NBA All-Star Luol Deng.
The progressive MOU is projected to open up a pathway for Kenya's talented basketballers to fully realise their full potential, build careers, and sustainable livelihoods.
To commemorate the opening, NBA Africa conducted a Jr. NBA clinic for 70 boys and girls aged 16 and below in Nairobi, in the presence of five-time NBA champion Ron Harper, NBA Africa CEO Victor Williams, Basketball Africa League President Amadou Gallo Fall, and Finley.
“The launch of our office in Nairobi reflects the enormous potential for basketball and the NBA in Kenya and across East Africa,” said Williams.
He added: “Basketball is one of the most popular team sports among Kenyan youth, and having a year-round presence on the ground will allow us to work more closely with local stakeholders to further grow the game here and make it more accessible to fans and players across the country.”
Finley intimated that he has been involved in promoting basketball in Kenyan communities for many years and has seen firsthand the passion Kenyans have for the popular sport.
“I am excited to lead the new office and look forward to growing our footprint in the region and positively impacting communities across the nation by creating new opportunities for youth to play the game and fans to interact with the NBA,” said Finley.
On his part, Harper lauded the historic announcement and expressed his support for the NBA league’s efforts to grow basketball in Kenya and across the African continent.
“It has been really special for me to engage with the youth here and teach them what I know. I have no doubt that the future of basketball in Kenya is extremely bright thanks to the league’s efforts,” intimated Harper.