Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich is no stranger to coaching players from overseas, so he will be in his natural element on Saturday when he leads Team Africa against Team World in what will be the first NBA game played in Africa.
Team Africa will feature NBA players who were born in Africa or are second-generation Africans. Team World's roster is pulled from the rest of the world, including six Americans (Bradley Beal, Kenneth Faried, Jeff Green, Marcus Smart, Evan Turner, and the starting point guard for the Los Angeles Clippers), Gasol brothers Pau and Marc, and Montenegro's Nikola Vucevic.
Joining Pop on Team Africa are two names familiar to Spurs fans: forward Boris Diaw, whose father is Senegalese, and former Spurs assistant and current Atlanta Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer.
The game itself will be entertaining enough, but the implications of this historic affair extend far beyond the basketball court. After all, two-thirds of his Big 3 are future Hall of Famers due in large part to the inspiration they drew from the Dream Team. Witnessing superstars like Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley take the world by storm planted the seeds of Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili's love of basketball.
Now the game on August 1st may not have the cultural or global impact that Dream Team vs. The Rest of the World did 23 years ago, but for young African children, it could be the life changing moment. If anyone can appreciate the impact the game could have, it's Gregg Popovich. Many of the men he's coached into champions were once children from overseas with an improbable goal of making it to the NBA. Who knows how many future NBA stars will be watching this weekend.
The NBA's official press release on the event is below.
JOHANNESBURG — The National Basketball Association (NBA) and the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) announced today the full rosters for the first NBA game in Africa, which will take place Aug. 1 at Ellis Park Arena in Johannesburg, South Africa.
The sold-out NBA Africa Game 2015 will feature a Team Africa vs. Team World format and will be played in support of Boys & Girls Clubs of South Africa, SOS Children's Villages Association of South Africa and the Nelson Mandela Foundation. The game will air live in the U.S. on ESPN at 9:00 a.m. ET and in Africa on SuperSport at 3:00 p.m. CAT.
Team Africa, comprised of players born in Africa and second-generation African players, will feature team captain and two-time NBA All-Star Luol Deng(Miami Heat; Great Britain; born in South Sudan), Al-Farouq Aminu (Portland Trail Blazers; U.S.; parents from Nigeria), Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks; Greece; parents from Nigeria), Nicolas Batum (Charlotte Hornets; France; parent from Cameroon), Bismack Biyombo (Toronto Raptors; Democratic Republic of the Congo), Boris Diaw (San Antonio Spurs; France; parent from Senegal), Gorgui Dieng (Minnesota Timberwolves; Senegal), Festus Ezeli (Golden State Warriors; Nigeria), Serge Ibaka (Oklahoma City Thunder; Congo)*, and Luc Mbah a Moute (Sacramento Kings; Cameroon).
Team World, comprised of players from the rest of the world, will feature team captain, NBPA President and eight-time NBA All-Star Chris Paul (Los Angeles Clippers; U.S.), Bradley Beal (Washington Wizards; U.S.), Kenneth Faried(Denver Nuggets; U.S.), Marc Gasol (Memphis Grizzlies; Spain), Pau Gasol(Chicago Bulls; Spain), Jeff Green (Memphis Grizzlies; U.S.), Marcus Smart(Boston Celtics; U.S.), Evan Turner (Boston Celtics; U.S.) and Nikola Vucevic(Orlando Magic; Montenegro).
Five-time NBA Champion Gregg Popovich will coach Team Africa, with 2014-15 NBA Coach of the Year Mike Budenholzer of the Atlanta Hawks and Oklahoma City Thunder assistant coach Monty Williams serving as assistant coaches. Brooklyn Nets General Manager Billy King and Toronto Raptors General Manager Masai Ujiri are the Team Africa general managers, with Eric Waters (Washington Wizards) serving as the team's athletic trainer.
Brooklyn Nets Coach Lionel Hollins will coach Team World, with Boston Celtics Coach Brad Stevens serving as assistant coach. San Antonio Spurs General Manager R.C. Buford is the Team World general manager, while Keon Weise (Orlando Magic) will be the team's athletic trainer.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver will attend the game along with NBA Global Ambassador Dikembe Mutombo (Democratic Republic of the Congo) and NBA Africa Ambassador Hakeem Olajuwon (Nigeria).
The game will take place following the 13th edition of Basketball without Borders (BWB) Africa, the NBA and FIBA's global basketball development and community outreach program that has reached 1,000 campers from 31 African countries since 2003.
As part of BWB and NBA Africa Game efforts, NBA Cares, the league's global social responsibility program, and the NBPA Foundation will host a series of events to leave a lasting legacy in the community. With support from Ford, local youth will participate in a Jr. NBA clinic on Wednesday, July 29 at the American International School of Johannesburg. Also at the school, Hoops 4 Hope will conduct life skills sessions presented by South African Airways. NBA players, coaches and legends will hold sessions on leadership and health and wellness for BWB campers throughout the week.
Members of the NBA family will gather at the newly built Boys & Girls Club at Protea Glen on Thursday, July 30 for a basketball court dedication and clinic presented by NIKE.
Friday, July 31 will mark the third consecutive year that NBA players will visit SOS Children's Village Ennerdale, an organization that builds families for orphaned and abandoned children. NBA Cares and the NBPA Foundation have undertaken their largest commitment to the village to date, working on a range of projects from the refurbishment of the local library to the construction of a new basketball court.
The NBA has a long history in Africa with more than 35 players from the continent featured on NBA rosters since Hakeem Olajuwon was drafted in 1984. The NBA opened an office in Johannesburg in 2010.
*Will not play due to injury