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Basketball Africa League Names Luol Deng as League’s Global Ambassador

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The Basketball Africa League (BAL) has named two-time NBA All-Star and 2012 Olympian Luol Deng as BAL Global Ambassador.  Following his retirement from an NBA career that spanned 15 years, Deng will help grow the BAL’s profile throughout Africa and around the world, while inspiring African youth through basketball.

“I am thrilled to work with Luol in his new role as BAL Global Ambassador,” said BAL President, Amadou Gallo Fall.  “He has been a great leader and an inspiring role model.  His remarkable basketball journey includes an extraordinary 15-year NBA career, two All-Star selections and participation in the 2012 Olympic Games.  Luol has been an integral part of our youth development efforts and has taken part in many of our initiatives across the continent since 2011.  We look forward to working with him to establish the BAL as a world-class professional basketball league.”

“I am honored to represent the BAL as the league’s Global Ambassador,” said Deng.  “We have a tremendous amount of talent in Africa and I am excited that some of that talent will be showcased through our new league.  I look forward to following some of the top African club teams when the inaugural season gets underway next month and supporting the BAL in expanding its footprint around the world.”

Born in Wau, South Sudan, Deng was selected with the 7th overall pick by the Phoenix Suns in the 2004 NBA Draft and was subsequently traded to the Chicago Bulls where he played from 2004-2014.  He also played for the Cleveland Cavaliers (2014), Miami Heat (2014-16), Los Angeles Lakers (2016-18) and Minnesota Timberwolves (2018-19), before signing a one-day contract with the Chicago Bulls to retire as a Bull ahead of the 2019-20 NBA Season.

Deng is a two-time NBA All-Star (2012, 2013).  He was a recipient of the 2007 NBA Sportsmanship Award and was named to the 2005 NBA All-Rookie First Team.

Deng was a member of the Great Britain National Team in the 2012 Olympic Games in London and captained Team Africa in the NBA Africa Games in 2015 and 2017.  He regularly participates in youth development initiatives in Africa, including Basketball Without Borders (BWB) Africa.  He was elected South Sudan Basketball Federation President in November 2019.

The inaugural BAL regular season will take place in Cairo (Egypt), Dakar (Senegal), Lagos (Nigeria), Luanda (Angola), Rabat (Morocco) and Monastir (Tunisia).  Kigali (Rwanda) will host the first-ever BAL Playoffs and Finals.  NIKE and Jordan Brand will be the exclusive on-court outfitter of the new professional league.

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Nardo Wick recruits Lil Durk, 21 Savage & G Herbo for “Who Want Smoke??”

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Nardo Wick has just dropped the highly-anticipated new version of his smash-hit “Who Want Smoke??” featuring Lil Durk, 21 Savage, & G Herbo. The track includes a show-stopping verse from Durk, displaying the depths of his fiery and confrontational style, a noteworthy inclusion from 21 Savage reminiscent of his earliest days on the mic, and G Herbo delivering the thrilling and seasoned bars he’s renowned for. The song not only capitalizes on the virality of “Who Want Smoke?”, but also serves as a masterclass in collaborating from some of the most prominent artists in the game. Each verse builds on the next, with the superstar additions sticking to theme that Nardo laid out on the original “Who Want Smoke?”, signaling the unwavering faith that Durk, 21, and Herb have in the 19-year old Jacksonville emcee. This collaboration comes on the heels of Durk & Lil Babybringing Nardo to perform the viral record at their tour stop in Orlando, receiving an electrifying response from the Floridan crowd. Though the original song has already amassed a whopping 60 million streams and counting, these carefully curated contributions only further solidify “Who Want Smoke??” as one of the biggest records of the year.

“This next chapter of my career is to give every project I work on my full attention. If I want to be proud of all the videos I work on, then I must never rush the process. I want it to be a great viewing experience every time. The goal is to create timeless quality art that inspires and motivates me, and hopefully it can inspire and motivate those beyond me as well. I view the “Who Want Smoke??” video as the opening page of this new chapter.”
Cole Bennett

Nardo Wick bursted onto the scene in mid-2020 with a string of releases, including “Lolli”, “Slide”, and “Came Up.” Music gave the shy teen an outlet to channel his angst and was accompanied by a fast-following. Though he’s soft-spoken off the mic, when Nardo enters the booth, the raps he produces are dynamic and haunting––a reflection of Jacksonville’s turbulent hip-hop scene. In 2021, Wick transitioned from making buzzing records to inescapable anthems. “Who Want Smoke?” became a widespread hit, achieving over 60 million streams as well as placements on Rap Caviar and Hip Hop Hits. The song reflected a menacing teen with a no-nonsense approach to life and music balancing between being captivating and fearsome. “Who Want Smoke?” is a frequent soundtrack to viral content on social media, with the most recent inclusion being Florida A&M’s marching band, the Marching 100, doing a live-rendition of the hit song during the halftime show for their game against Alabama State University. Hit-producer Cardo Got Wings laced Nardo for a last-minute request to appear on February’s Judas And The Black Messiah: The Inspired Album. That album topped the charts upon release, putting Nardo Wick alongside the biggest stars of Hip-Hop and R&B. Wick followed this with the Nick Mira-produced “Pull Up” in July. In August, Nardo released “I Be Chillin”, an exciting addition to his growing discography. Throughout the run, the budding rapper has received praise from Passion of the Weiss, Lyrical Lemonade, and DJ Booth, who included him in a recent “10 Rappers You Should Know Right Now” list. Recently COMPLEXnamed Nardo among their list of “Best Jacksonville Rappers.”

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