Five players from or with ties to Africa took part in the Clorox Rising Stars as part of the NBA All-Star Weekend in Cleveland, Ohio last night.
Isaac Okoro (Cleveland Cavaliers; ties to Nigeria) represented Team Barry, Precious Achiuwa (Toronto Raptors; Nigeria) and Desmond Bane (Memphis Grizzlies; ties to Nigeria) represented Team Isiah, and Ayo Dosunmu (Chicago Bulls; ties to Nigeria) and Jonathan Kuminga (Golden State Warriors; Democratic Republic of the Congo) represented Team Payton.
Team Barry defeated Team Isiah 25-20 in the final with the number one overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, Cade Cunningham, named the mini-tournament’s Most Valuable Player.
“I represent Nigeria. I represent Rivers State. I represent Port Harcourt, the city that I'm from. I know there's a lot of kids back home that look up to me and want to be in the position that I am today, and I'm a role model to a lot of kids whether I like it or not. So, I have to keep doing the things that I'm doing, being positive, and just continue to work hard, just so I can keep being an inspiration to those kids,” said Achiuwa.
As part of last night’s event, Bane and Tyrese Haliburton (Indiana Pacers) won the Clorox Clutch Challenge, making the five different iconic shots from NBA Playoff history in 39.1 seconds.
Overall, nine players competing at NBA All-Star 2022 are from or have ties to Africa: Achiuwa, Giannis and Thanasis Antetokounmpo (Bucks; Greece; ties to Nigeria), Alex Antetokounmpo (NBA G League’s Raptors 905; Greece; ties to Nigeria), Bane, Dosunmu, Joel Embiid (Philadelphia 76ers; Cameroon), Kuminga and Okoro.