NBA legend, Cedric Ceballos reveals major challenge basketball faces in Nigeria

American former professional basketball player, Cedric Ceballos has said that one of the biggest problems of the sport is convincing parents to allow their kids to get involved.

The 55-year-old 1995 NBA All Star and 1992 NBA Slam Dunk Champion, who played mostly for the Phoenix Suns and the Los Angeles Lakers, spoke to newsmen at the Power Forward Finals 2022, organised by Exxonmobil, NBA Africa and PanAfricare.

The NBA legend, who also represented Dallas Mavericks, Detroit Pistons and Miami Heat during his playing days, now an ambassador of the game, said there’s a lot of gain when parents allow their young children participate in sports in general, not just basketball.

“I think the great thing about not only this game but sports in general is that it helps you communicate with others.

“It helps you get along and helps you work as a team. And I think that’s the most important thing, especially to try to convince the parents to allow the kids to play.

“You know, one of the things Kobe Bryant was great at, even though he came out of high school and didn’t go to college.

“He went to college while he was abroad and graduated. You know, he got his degree while being a professional.

“There’s a shift you know, I talked to the kids earlier and I told them the most important thing they have is time and I would love to play this game at the highest level for a long time but 11 years at the highest level was pretty good.

“You have a short period of time to maximise your potential and your earnings. So if you take full advantage of the situation now, you always because when I was in college, I had people 40, 50, 60 years old, in classes with me, so it’s never too late for education.

“You can always get your education but you have a small window as an athlete, so try to take full advantage of it.

“And then like, for instance, Kobe Bryant. Basketball paid for his education, he went back and paid for it himself. He didn’t rely on the scholarship. So if the parents understand the concern, but allow the kids to dream and in the midst of dreaming, they’re going to achieve so much as human beings.

“I was a shy kid and now I have no problem talking. Now I run my mouth all the time. Sometimes you have to shut me up. But basketball did that for me.

“Because I couldn’t get better at basketball without communicating with my teammates, without paying attention when I’m listening, without remembering plays and stuff like that.

“We just want to grow the game. So the kids can experience so many other things and get so many other chances to grow.”

Gbemisola Abudu, NBA Africa VP and Country Head of Nigeria; Dr. Sani Mohammed Ladan, FCT Secondary Education Board Director; Dr. Patrick Adah, PanAfricare Country Director for Nigeria, also spoke to journalists during the sport event.

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