The NBA Makes Its Africa Debut

A closer look at the players representing Africa at the NBA’s first ever game on the continent.

Al-Farouq Aminu (Nigeria)

Photo by Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images

Al-Farouq Aminu is a ferocious dunker and blocks with the same explosiveness. It would be unreasonable to doubt his hustle. The Nigerian forward can play with confidence from anywhere on the floor— at 6’9” that makes him a threat. Aminu has incredible vision when running the fastbreak, oftentimes finding holes in the defense before they open. Expect some of the game’s most memorable plays to come from him.

Best Play: Aminu makes the Rockets look silly with a steal on one end and an emphatic slam on the other.

HT: 6'9"

WT: 215 lbs.

DOB: 9-21-90, Atlanta, Georgia.

Background: Nigerian parents, plays for Nigeria in international competition.

Position: Forward

College: Wake Forest University

Drafted: Los Angeles Clippers, 2010 (8th overall pick)

Current Team: Portland Trailblazers

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Photo by Don Paulsen/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Hugh Masekela's New York City Legacy

A look back at the South African legend's time in New York City and his enduring presence in the Big Apple.

In Questlove's magnificent documentary, Summer of Soul, he captures a forgotten part of Black American music history. But in telling the tale of the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, the longtime musician and first-time filmmaker also captures a part of lost South African music history too.

Among the line-up of blossoming all-stars who played the Harlem festival, from a 19-year-old Stevie Wonder to a transcendent Mavis Staples, was a young Hugh Masekela. 30 years old at the time, he was riding the wave of success that came from releasing Grazing in the Grass the year before. To watch Masekela in that moment on that stage is to see him at the height of his time in New York City — a firecracker musician who entertained his audiences as much as he educated them about the political situation in his home country of South Africa.

The legacy Masekela sowed in New York City during the 1960s remains in the walls of the venues where he played, and in the dust of those that are no longer standing. It's in the records he made in studios and jazz clubs, and on the Manhattan streets where he once posed with a giant stuffed zebra for an album cover. It's a legacy that still lives on in tangible form, too, in the Hugh Masekela Heritage Scholarship at the Manhattan School of Music.

The school is the place where Masekela received his education and met some of the people that would go on to be life-long bandmates and friends, from Larry Willis (who, as the story goes, Masekela convinced to give up opera for piano) to Morris Goldberg, Herbie Hancock and Stewart Levine, "his brother and musical compadre," as Mabusha Masekela, Bra Hugh's nephew says.

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