African “Hoop Dreams” Camp Will Hold Court in Kenya
Although the two teens took all the appropriate steps to make it into the NBA; they were not drafted. Nevertheless, the recurrent theme of hope conveyed in the film was enough to motivate one player to become a Christian pastor and the other to found a non-profit that seeks to empower the lives of low-income families in Chicago.
The messages of hopefulness and positive change present in “Hoop Dreams” inspired Masai Ujiri, general manager and president of the Toronto Raptors NBA franchise, to launch Giants of Africa, a league-sponsored initiative that holds basketball camps on the Mother Continent while delivering an empowering message of optimism and perseverance. In recent years, Giants of Africa has been very active promoting the development of basketball across the continent. In August 2017, Giants of Africa will be holding camps in Kenya to promote the NBA and, possibly, look for the first major basketball star to come from the country. The NBA takes pride in presenting itself as a truly international sports league; to this effect, the Philadelphia 76ers Academy extended a scholarship to Kenyan player Joseph Njeru a couple of years ago.
Like “Hoop Dreams,” the Giants of Africa organization features its very own documentary. As a native of Nigeria, Toronto Raptors manager Ujiri realized the importance of showing the inspirational work of his organization as it tries to provide young African athletes an opportunity to shine in the NBA to provide for their families and communities back home. Ujiri coordinates aid efforts with plans to strengthen the sports infrastructure of Kenya, Ivory Coast, Rwanda, Senegal, and his native of Nigeria. Although the NBA already has an international program named Basketball Without Borders, the league decided that Ujiri was the right person to lead the outreach effort in Africa. As the man making executive decisions for the Raptors, Ujiri serves in a similar capacity as Pat Riley of the Miami Heat or Phil Jackson of the New York Knicks; he wants to send a message to African basketball fans that a future in the NBA, the greatest hardwood league in the world, is not far-fetched.