D’Tigers and Orlando Magic forward Al-Farouq Aminu is back on the mend and full if good spirits after undergoing surgery early this year on a career-threatening injury he suffered last year.
The injury came at a particularly bad time after he’d starred for Nigeria at the FIBA World Cup in China where D’Tigers finished as Africa’s best team, earning a berth at the Tokyo Olympics as a result.
It was originally thought Aminu would miss the Games through injury but the coronavirus pandemic forced the postponement of the Olympics to 2021, opening a window for the 6’10 athlete to gain fitness in time to feature in his second Olympics.
Born in Atlanta, Georgia to a Nigerian father and American mother, Aminu was selected with the eighth pick by the LA Clippers in the 2010 NBA Draft.
He opted to play for Nigeria internationally rather than his birth country and was part of D’Tigers team to the 2012 Olympic Games in London and was instrumental as Nigeria won a first-ever AfroBasket title in 2015.
He also represented Team Africa in NBA Africa Games 2015 and 2018 in South Africa and also attended a number of Basketball Without Borders Africa camps and took part in an NBA camp in Lusaka, Zambia in 2012.
The NBA star was a guest on NBA Africa Game Time on ESPN Africa where he spoke with host and award winning South African music artist Sho Madjozi about his passion for the African continent and his pride of representing Nigeria on an international level.
On deciding to play for Nigeria instead of the USA
I thought it would be inspiring, so to speak, to play for an African country more so than trying to play for the USA; it just meant a lot to me to do so. Me and my brother (Alade), we just thought it would be a cool way to go to the Olympics, to travel the world
On winning 2015 Afrobasket with Nigeria
“Oh man, it was unbelievable. I know Nigeria so many times had tried to win, came out with silver. To kind of get that monkey off our country’s back, it’s unbelievable.”
On representing Team Africa in NBA Africa Game 2015
“I shared the same basketball court with Hakeem Olajuwon and Dikembe Mutombo, not a lot of people get to say that. It was surreal… These are (my) childhood heroes, especially Hakeem, being Nigerian. I still remember my dad, he did not watch any basketball, but he knew who Hakeem was. He used to talk about his Dream Shake and things like that.“
On attending Basketball Without Borders Africa camps
“I still remember my first trip, seeing (Thabo) Sefolosha do stuff back at home. It inspired me to make sure I do stuff back in my house. And I have been.”
On his rehabilitation from surgery after suffering a career-threatening injury last year
“I feel good, it’s been a weird year honestly. First time in my career that I’ve been hurt like this and had to miss this much time and obviously, with everything else going on in 2020 it hasn’t just been my bad year.
“Everyone has had a little bit of a bad year, so, it’s been interesting, I’ve had a bit of time to reflect but I’m in a really good place and appreciate my family and friends and I’ve just been working to get back.”
Launched in 2019, NBA Africa Game Time is a digital basketball and lifestyle show hosted by award winning South African music artist Sho Madjozi for NBA fans in Africa.
The show will air biweekly on ESPN throughout the rest of the season with all the episodes available on NBA Africa YouTube channel following the television premiere.