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Malcolm Brogdon Q&A: Fit with Celtics, BWB Africa experience

Malcolm Brogdon Q&A: Fit with Celtics, BWB Africa experience

Dating back to when he was 9 years old, Malcolm Brogdon has made plenty of trips to Africa, a place he truly loves and is passionate about. This past week marked yet another visit with the NBA for Basketball Without Borders, where he along with several players and coaches from around the league played a part in grooming the next generation of basketball youngsters — on and off the floor.

“I just have a heart for it over here, a heart for the continent and developing these guys and giving them a real opportunity,” Brogdon told Basketball News via Zoom. 

“I think it's always an amazing opportunity when I get to come over here and work with the young talent, because there's a wealth of it in Africa. They don't have the resources and they don't have the nutrition and the development that we have, but once they do, these kids are gonna take off. So I definitely applaud the NBA for being over here and giving them an opportunity.”

(Photos via NBA Africa)

Held in Cairo, Egypt, for the first time since the program expanded into Africa, Basketball Without Borders returned after a brief hiatus. (The last event occurred in Dakar, Senegal, in 2019, which Brogdon also participated in at the time.) BWB Africa 2022 brought together over 60 of the top men and women’s prospects under the age of 18 to learn and compete.

The camp featured a variety of activities, including movement efficiency drills, offensive and defensive skill stations, three-point contests and 5-on-5 games, plus sessions about life skills and leadership development. In addition, everybody involved was able to explore the country — most notably seeing the pyramids and going to the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization.

Finding himself coaching for the second consecutive time, Brogdon quips that such a responsibility “is a whole different monster than playing.” With that being said, the 29-year-old envisions he’ll continue to be involved in developing the future talent that comes from Africa.

“It's up to guys like myself in the NBA that have a platform and have a name that can come over [to] encourage these guys, shine some light in their life, work with them and learn from them, and allow them to learn from you,” Brogdon said.

With BWB Africa coming to a close on Wednesday, Basketball News spoke with Brogdon about his foundation, the Boston Celtics’ upcoming season and more.

You’ve long talked about how important your platform as an NBA player is and how it can be used to help people. Could you speak about your clean water initiative in East Africa and your Brogdon Family Foundation that started two years ago?

Brogdon: "For sure. I have a foundation, the Brogdon Family Foundation. It focuses on two things. One side is education domestically and the other side is clean water internationally. Especially on the clean water side, we've seen a lot of progress over the last couple of years. We're building clean water wells in East Africa — Tanzania and Kenya. We have over 20-to-25 wells in the ground in those two countries. We're doing a lot of really good work and really impacting people's lives."

It’s got to be cool to be able to spend time with Grant Williams out there, especially now that you’re teammates with him. Have you gotten the chance to get to know him better and talk ball?

Brogdon: "Yeah, we've talked a lot of basketball. We've spent a lot of time together. We've talked business, we've talked life. I got to meet his mom, she's here. Grant's a great guy. He's a smart guy. He takes the game serious, takes life serious. He's an impressive guy, so I've really enjoyed my time with him."

I’m sure you’re stoked for camp to start in a few weeks. You seem thrilled to be playing in Boston now. What makes that organization stand out to you?

Brogdon: "Their history, right? I mean, they're the most winning organization in the league, and I think they're more hungry to win than anybody. You can see that with the move they made for me and [Danilo] Gallinari. They want to improve. They want to win a championship. It's all about Banner 18 for 'em. Now that's all it's about for me as well, and I'm excited to be a part of that."

Have you had the chance to talk to Gallo after his injury?

Brogdon: "I reached out to him. I sent him a text that just said, 'Hey man, praying for you. Get healthy, we need you this year.' He said, 'I appreciate it, brother.' It was short. When you get injured, it's frustrating. You want people to check on you, but a lot of the time, you don't want to talk a lot about it, so I just sent a text out to let him know I was thinking about him and I was praying for him."

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How do you feel you can complement Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown best?

Brogdon: "I think I can just relieve pressure. Whether that's touching the paint, getting 'em easy shots. Whether that's guarding players that they need a break on the defensive end [against] so they can focus on offense.

"But [mostly], being a steady presence on the floor that can help control the end of games, that can help control the flow of the game to make sure that they're getting the ball in their spots, [so] they're never having to overdo it to get a look or run their bodies into the ground. I want to be that guy that can create for 'em."

You're joining a guard room with Marcus Smart, Derrick White and Payton Pritchard. It feels like the lineup combinations could be very fun.

Brogdon: "Yeah. We're talented, we're deep. A year ago, people were talking about, 'The Celtics didn't have depth.' Well, that's not gonna be an issue. I think this year we'll have a wealth of talent coming off the bench, and I'm excited about it. I'm excited. I think we've got smart, more-than-capable guys coming off the bench that are versatile on both sides of the ball, and we can really be dangerous."

What do you admire most about Ime Udoka? What have your conversations with him been like?

Brogdon: "I admire his authenticity, his realness. He's a straight shooter, he's very direct. There's not a lot of gray area with him. You can have coaches that don't want to tell you the truth, that sorta beat around the bush. He's far from that, so I really appreciate that about him. It's hard to find. I've had maybe two conversations with him. I can tell he's a player's coach. He was in the league for a while, he knows how to talk to you, he knows how to relate to you, but he also knows how to coach."

Background on Basketball Without Borders Africa

  • The first Basketball Without Borders Africa camp took place in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 2003.
  • In total there have been 18 BWB Africa camps, with the most recent camp taking place in Cairo, Egypt, from Aug. 28-31, 2022.
  • More than 1,400 men and women from more than 30 African countries have participated in BWB Africa.
  • Camps have been attended and supported by more than 150 NBA and WNBA coaches, players and NBA team personnel.
  • BWB Africa camps have been conducted in South Africa (2003-2009; 2011-2015; 2017-2018), Senegal (2010, 2019), Egypt (2022) and Angola (2016).
  • Twelve former BWB Africa campers have been drafted into the NBA: Khalifa Diop (BWB Africa 2018), Christian Koloko (BWB Africa 2017), Pascal Siakam (BWB Africa 2012), Joel Embiid (BWB Africa 2011), Kostas Antetokounmpo (BWB Africa 2015), Chukwudi Maduabum (BWB Africa 2010), Gorgui Dieng (BWB Africa 2009), Christian Eyenga (BWB Africa 2005), Hamady N'diaye (BWB Africa 2004), Solomon Alabi (BWB Africa 2004), Mouhamed Saer Sene (BWB Africa 2004), Luc Mbah a Moute (BWB Africa 2003)

Background on Basketball Without Borders

  • Basketball Without Borders (BWB) is the NBA and FIBA’s global basketball development and community outreach program that was launched in 2001.
  • The first-ever BWB camp took place in Europe in July 2001: Vlade Divac (Serbia) and Toni Kukoc (Croatia), together with former teammates from the Yugoslavia national team, reunited in Treviso, Italy, to work with 50 children from the former Yugoslavia.
  • The NBA and FIBA have staged 65 BWB camps in 40 cities across 30 countries on six continents. 
  • BWB has hosted more than 3,800 participants from 133 countries and territories.
  • More than 310 current and former NBA/WNBA players have joined more than 240 NBA team personnel from all 30 NBA teams to share their expertise and knowledge with participants.
  • The NBA typically hosts four regional BWB camps over the summer (Africa, Europe, Asia, Americas), and in 2015 created the BWB Global camp, which is held annually at NBA All-Star for the top prospects from the previous summer’s camps
  • There have been 105 former BWB campers drafted or signed by NBA or WNBA teams, including a record 41 players on opening-night rosters last season.
    • Notable former BWB campers include Deandre Ayton, Josh Giddey, RJ Barrett, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Lauri Markkanen, Joel Embiid, Danilo Gallinari, Marc Gasol, Rui Hachimura, Jonas Valanciunas, Jamal Murray, Nicolas Batum, Pascal Siakam and Awak Kuier.
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