Former Bulls Joakim Noah, Luol Deng invest in NBA Africa

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Former Bulls Joakim Noah, Luol Deng invest in NBA Africa originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

The NBA announced Monday the formation of NBA Africa, an institution which will spearhead the league's continued work on the continent.

At the forefront of the endeavor is a lengthy list of investors, including but not limited to Dikembe Mutombo, Grant Hill, Junior Bridgeman and former Chicago Bulls Luol Deng and Joakim Noah.

"Today’s announcement is the result of many years of investment and on-the-ground work to grow the game of basketball in Africa and a recognition of the enormous opportunities ahead for the NBA on the continent," NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. "We believe that basketball can become a top sport across Africa over the next decade, and I look forward to working closely with our investors to make that goal a reality.”

The NBA's business in Africa includes a partnership with FIBA to operate the Basketball Africa League (BAL), which, with 12 teams from 12 different African countries, is currently playing out its inaugural season. It marks the NBA's "first collaboration to operate a league outside of North America," according to a release. Funding from investors, the release also noted, will go toward growing the BAL and the NBA's presence and engagement across the continent.

“This is a historic day for basketball in Africa, and I’m honored to join this special group of leaders who are committed to the continent and to using the game to improve people’s lives," Mutombo said in a statement. "I’m fortunate to have been among the first players from Africa to make an impact in the NBA, and because of the commitment of these individuals, countless more players will have the opportunity to follow in my footsteps in the years ahead.”

The NBA first opened its African headquarters in Johannesburg in 2010. Indeed, Monday marks another landmark.

It also adds to a list of post-retirement engagements for Deng, who currently serves as president of the South Sudan Basketball Federation and has gone to great lengths in recent years to build his home nation's program, including filling in as coach at February's AfroBasket qualifiers. In August, South Sudan will compete in the tournament.

RELATED: Why Deng added South Sudan coaching gig to basketball duties

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