Some of the NBA’s top players — Kemba Walker, Joel Embiid, CJ McCollum, DeMarcus Cousins, Andre Drummond and Kristaps Porzinigis, among others — aren’t just in Africa to play in the league’s second game ever on the continent.
They’re there to make their presence felt off the court, too.
Prior to Saturday’s NBA Africa Game 2017, members of the NBA family spent a few days participating in NBA Cares events in and around Johannesburg in an effort to leave a long-lasting legacy in various communities.
In addition to taking part in the 15th Basketball Without Borders Africa camp throughout the week, NBA players, coaches and legends hosted a Jr. NBA clinic for local youth and Special Olympics athletes at the American International School of Johannesburg on Wednesday, helped build homes in Lenasia South through the league’s partnership with Habitat for Humanity on Thursday, and visited with orphaned children at the SOS Children’s Village Ennerdale on Friday.
“It’s a humbling experience,” Walker said. “When you come here and you see this, you can’t complain. We can’t complain back home. People complain about the dumbest things, and we have no idea what’s really out here in this world. It’s very humbling. Definitely gives me a whole different perspective on life.”
Before heading to South Africa, McCollum, Brooklyn Nets swingman Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Hall of Famer and NBA global ambassador Dikembe Mutombo traveled to Ethiopia with UNICEF, where they visited schools and villages and learned more about the country’s health issues and nutrition programs — an experience McCollum says he won’t soon forget.
“Seeing the disparity between the rich and the poor and how thankful they are for what they have even though they don’t have a lot, that was definitely eye-opening,” McCollum said on a teleconference call on Thursday. “Seeing some of their situations, having to walk four or five miles for water, not having running water or electricity in their home, having to actually build their own home, grow their own food, farm their own land, that was eye-opening.”
Saturday’s game, which will take place at the…