Do you recognize these two great basketball players? That's right - they are Hakeem Olajuwon and Dikembe Mutombo. Besides being great professional ball players they share something else in common. They are among eight current NBA players who are from Africa. The other Africans playing in the NBA are:
from the Cameroon
Desagana Diop from Senegal
Obinna Ekezic from Nigeria
Mamodou N'diaye from Senegal
Micahael Olowokandi from Nigeria
Olumide Oyedeji from Nigeria
Do you recognize these names? Do you know what professional teams they play for?
Basketball is one of the fastest growing sports in Africa, although it has a long way to go before it becomes as popular as football! One of the reasons why basketball is not as popular as other team sports in Africa is that basketball was not widely played in Britain, France, and Portugal the major colonial powers in Africa. You will remember that team sports like football and cricket were introduced to and encouraged in African countries by the European colonial powers.
As basketball grows in popularity in African schools and as basketball clubs are formed in the same way as football clubs were formed in African cities 50 to 60 years ago you can be sure that many talented basketball players will develop. It will not be surprising in the near future to find many more fine athletes from Africa playing basketball in the U.S. at the college and professional levels.