Nigeria 'top of our list' for regular season game, NBA commissioner Adam Silver says

PRETORIA -- NBA commissioner Adam Silver said on Saturday that should a regular season game be played in Africa, then Nigeria would be the leading contender to host the contest, thanks to the country's links with the Toronto Raptors.

Silver, in South Africa for the third NBA Africa Game, to be played in Pretoria on Saturday, prefaced the Nigeria comments by tempering expectations of such a game in the near future.

African fans are appreciative of the exhibition fixture that is the NBA Africa Game; the perennial question is whether the continent will ever stage a regular season, or even preseason, match-up.

"We'd love to bring a regular season game here, and it's something we've talked about before," Silver told assembled journalists ahead of the NBA Africa Game.

"We've done it in other parts of the world. But it's a much larger economic undertaking than playing a friendly game during the summer. It would need to be done as part of a larger business plan, but it's certainly something we have talked about several times.

"There are a number of teams that have raised their hands, and said that when the time is right they would be very interested. But I'm not prepared to put a timeline on it, only because I don't know.

"But as we go through our business planning this fall, a regular season game here, as well as a league, will be very much on the front-burner."

When asked if Nigeria, with its huge hoops fanbase and strong AfroBasket-winning national team, would be an option for this hypothetical game on the continent, Silver said: "The short answer is, 'yes'.

"The fact that there happens to be a team president in the NBA, his name is [Raptors boss] Masai Ujiri and he's from Nigeria, would suggest that it would be at the top of our list for a potential game.

"It would come as no surprise that one of the teams that has expressed an interest in playing a game in Africa is the Raptors. Larry Tanenbaum, who is the principal governor of the Raptors, also happens to be the chairman of the NBA board, so he has special influence on the league.

"The fact that Mr Tanenbaum has also expressed an interest and a passion for a regular season game in Africa is something that will be taken into account."

Silver also revealed during the roundtable that the league would be looking into launching a Pan-African league, although he couldn't put a timeline on that either as issues such as a lack of arenas and travel considerations had to be addressed.