Fremantle indie, Passenger, has announced that former US President Barack Obama, hip-hop superstar J. Cole, NBA legends Steph Curry and Joakim Noah, Nigerian born Toronto Raptors President Masai Ujiri, Cameroonian NBA star Pascal Siakam and NBA Commissioner, Adam Silver will feature extensively in its new landmark documentary series, Origin: The Story of the Basketball Africa League charting the historic creation and launch of the NBA’s new Basketball Africa League (The BAL).

Origin: The Story of the Basketball Africa League is executive produced, written and co-directed by Richard Brown (True Detective, Catch-22, Outlaw King, This England) along with South African director Tebogo Malope (Queen Sono). Oscar-winning filmmaker Fisher Stevens (director of Beckham, The Cove and star of Succession) serves as Executive Producer, alongside Masai Ujiri, and multiple award-winning Nigerian filmmaker Akin Omotoso (Rise, The Giannis Antenkoumpo Story). Fremantle is handling international distribution.

In the four-part series Barack Obama, a strategic partner of NBA Africa explains the enormous importance of sports to the African Continent’s future and discusses his involvement in the development of the African continent post-presidency, as well as the inherent challenges to creating a league across a continent comprising 54 countries – each with their own cultures and at different stages of development. Hip-hop legend turned basketball player J Cole discusses his life changing experience of playing in the first ever Basketball Africa League tournament and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, speaks on the underlying vision behind creating The BAL.

Masai Ujiri, the architect behind the Raptors historic 2019 NBA Championship, grew up in Zaria, Nigeria, where his love of the game brought him to college in the United States, speaks about his involvement with NBA Africa since its inception in 2010, and his estimation that there is more great untapped sporting talent in Africa than anywhere else in the world. Joakim Noah reveals how reconnecting with his African roots led him to becoming an investor in the BAL and its importance to create transformational opportunity across the most diverse Continent on the planet, which has 750 million young people under the age of 24. Amadou Gallo Fall President of the BAL also tells his personal story and why he has committed his life to building a professional sports ecosystem across Africa that has become a driver for transformative development throughout the Continent.

A pivotal moment in the history of Basketball, the launch of the BAL was the first time that the NBA created a league outside of US. The series explores the complex relationship between America and Africa and how The BAL is a bridge between the two.

Co-Directors Richard Brown and Tebogo Malope jointly commented: “From the beginning it was clear that the launch of a Pan African Sports League consisting of 12 teams, from 12 countries across the most diverse Continent in the world – competing to be the Historic first ever Champions – presented an exciting opportunity for a thrilling documentary series. Then the reality superseded all expectations as we were able to dive deeply into the stories of some fascinating and extraordinary characters; from players and coaches to the visionaries behind the project – charting many of the obstacles that had to be overcome along the way. It seems clear that the future is bright for The BAL and the league will go from strength to strength. We hope to be there to capture the story as it continues to unfold.”

Former NBA player and series contributor Joakim Noah added: “This is the beginning of something very special; that the NBA had the belief to invest in the vision of a profound leader such as Amadou Gallo Fall speaks volumes about where Africa is and where it is headed. You can feel the vitality and energy every time you set foot on the Continent. I couldn’t be more excited for the world to see this beautiful documentary series Origin and experience for themselves what’s happening in Africa; this is so much bigger than just basketball.”


Jon Creamer

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