The NBA announced Tuesday that Timberwolves center Gorgui Dieng will play in the the NBA's first exhibition in Africa.
The initial report of the scheduled game came back in April, and team captains were named. Miami Heat forward Luol Deng will lead Team Africa, and Clippers guard Chris Paul will head up Team World. Paul is also president of the NBPA.
Deng said the following in April:
"I am extremely proud to be a part of the NBA's first game in Africa. Coming from South Sudan and having participated in the Basketball Without Borders Africa camps in Johannesburg, I am truly honored to be part of this historic event."
In addition to Deng, Dieng will play alongside Thunder forward Serge Ibaka, a native of the Republic of the Congo, among others. Wizards guard Bradley Beal and Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried will join Paul's lineup for Team World.
Dieng was born in Senegal, and he attended the Sports for Education and Economic Development Academy there. In 2009, he was invited to Basketball Without Borders, and he earned MVP honors for the camp. Dieng came to the United States in the fall of 2009 when he transferred to Huntington Prep (West Virginia).
In 2014, Dieng represented the Senegalize national basketball team during the FIBA Basketball World Cup. During that series, he averaged 16 points and 10.7 rebounds over six games.
Dieng also spent time back with Basketball Without Borders last spring; he fully refurbished the basketball court and offered a three-day basketball camp for 100 local kids. Dieng intentionally chose students who took their school work seriously and had the kind of mental drive to commit themselves and work hard.
"To just make them look at the big pictures and not like the small window," Dieng said in an interview with Fox Sports North. "Because I'm sure they [will all] think that as soon as you arrive in the U.S., [you are] rich. I'm sure a lot of guys think that way, which is not the case [...] we give you the answer to the exam. So you have to study and be ready."
For someone so deeply rooted in African culture and in sharing the NBA with the youth, playing in the NBA's first African exhibition game will be the perfect opportunity for Dieng.
The game will take place in Johannesburg, South Africa on August 1. NBA front office members and former athletes will also participate, including the following:
- Mike Budenholzer, Atlanta Hawks coach
- Lionel Hollins, Brooklyn Nets coach
- Gregg Popovich, San Antonio Spurs coach
- Brad Stevens, Boston Celtics coach
- Monty Williams, New Orleans Pelicans coach
- Billy King, Brooklyn Nets GM
- Masai Ujiri, Toronto Raptors GM
- Dikembe Mutombo, NBA Global Ambassador
- Hakeem Olajuwon, NBA Africa Ambassador
- Adam Silver, NBA Commissioner