Ujiri over Nigeria's withdrawing from international competitions: 'Enough is enough'

2022-06-06 05:26
Credit: USA Today Sports – Scanpix
Credit USA Today Sports – Scanpix

Nigeria's government has decided to withdraw its basketball teams from international competitions for 2 years, likely eliminating their chances of qualifying for the 2024 Olympics.

This decision has angered Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri and Boston Celtics head coach Ime Udoka, who spoke about the decision on Sunday.

Ujiri called for a reorganization of Nigerian basketball and demanded the resignation of the Nigerian Basketball federation in his open letter to Nigerian national basketball leaders

The letter started with "Enough is enough".

"The leaders of the basketball ecosystem in Nigeria continue to rob our youth of their present and future while tearing the entire basketball community apart - this needs to stop," Ujiri added. 

Udoka, just before his team played in Game 2 of the NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors, also expressed his unhappiness with the situation. 

"A lot of the same stuff I dealt with as a player, which is disappointing," said a former Nigerian national team player, Udoka.

Both Nigerian national teams, men's and women's, were a part of the Tokyo Olympics last summer. The men's team, coached by Sacramento Kings head coach Mike Brown had beaten the United States national team in an exhibition game before the Olympics.

Brown had to oversee the preparation for the Olympics mostly by himself, from organizing travel arrangements to making sure that practice equipment had arrived. Brown also opened a charitable foundation and tried to collect $1 million to help the Nigerian basketball program.

The men's national team had set their goals to qualify for next year's World Cup, which would be a huge step towards making the 2024 Olympics. However, with the current ban from the Nigerian government, it does not allow the national team to compete, which erases almost any chances to make the Olympics as well. 

The problem with the Nigerian basketball federation is internal disagreements. The federation has elected two different presidents in parallel elections in January. 

"I know all athletes, leaders, and stakeholders in African sport will not give up on Nigerian basketball, and we will not give up on the youth," Ujiri wrote.

Ujiri finished the letter by calling for change: "We need a new slate and a new narrative. To do this, all of the leaders that have held on to the realms of the Nigerian Basketball Federation for the past several years must all step down."

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