Fremantle's Passenger closed partnership with Barack Obama and global sports stars

Former US President will join J. Cole, Steph Curry, Joakim Noah, Masai Ujiri, Pascal Siakam, and Adam Silver in the documentary series "Origin: The Story of the Basketball Africa League."

4 MAR 2024

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Passenger, a Fremantle company, announced former US President Barack Obama, hip-hop superstar J. Cole, NBA legends Steph Curry and Joakim Noah, Nigerian-born Toronto Raptors President Masai Ujiri, Cameroonian NBA star Pascal Siakam, and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver feature extensively in the new landmark documentary series "Origin: The Story of the Basketball Africa League," charting the historic creation and launch of the NBA's new Basketball Africa League (The BAL). 

The title is executive produced, written, and co-directed by Richard Brown ("True Detective2, "Catch-22", "Outlaw King2, "This England") along with South African director Tebogo Malope ("Queen Sono"). Oscar-winning filmmaker Fisher Stevens (director of "Beckham", "The Cove" and star of "Succession") serves as Executive Producer, alongside Masai Ujiri, and multiple award-winning Nigerian filmmaker Akin Omotoso ("Rise", "The Giannis Antenkoumpo Story"). Fremantle is handling international distribution.

Co-Directors Richard Brown and Tebogo Malope jointly addressed the social and historical significance of the event: "From the beginning, it was clear that the launch of a Pan African Sports League consisting of 12 teams, from 12 countries across the most diverse continent in the world - competing to be the Historic first ever Champions - presented an exciting opportunity for a thrilling documentary series. Then the reality superseded all expectations as we were able to dive deeply into the stories of some fascinating and extraordinary characters; from players and coaches to the visionaries behind the project – charting many of the obstacles that had to be overcome along the way. It seems clear that the future is bright for The BAL, and the league will go from strength to strength. We hope to be there to capture the story as it continues to unfold." 

Former NBA player and series contributor Joakim Noah contextualized the phenomenon: "This is the beginning of something extraordinary; that the NBA had the belief to invest in the vision of a profound leader such as Amadou Gallo Fall speaks volumes about where Africa is and where it is headed. You can feel the vitality and energy every time you set foot on the continent. I couldn't be more excited for the world to see this beautiful documentary series Origin and experience for themselves what's happening in Africa; this is so much bigger than just basketball."

In the four-part series, Barack Obama, a strategic partner of NBA Africa, explains the enormous importance of sports to the African Continent's future and discusses his involvement in the development of the African continent post-presidency, as well as the inherent challenges to creating a league across a continent comprising 54 countries – each with their own cultures and at different stages of development. Hip-hop legend turned basketball player J Cole discusses his life-changing experience playing in the first-ever Basketball Africa League tournament. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver speaks on the underlying vision behind creating The BAL. A pivotal moment in the history of basketball, the launch of the BAL was the first time the NBA created a league outside of the US. The series explores the complex relationship between America and Africa and how The BAL bridges the two.