In Riyadh, LeBron James made the day of several Saudi basketball enthusiasts by attending a basketball clinic where he interacted with young players. It was James’ first visit to Saudi Arabia, and he got the chance to play basketball with students and members of the Saudi women’s national team. James even led a special clinic at Alazem Academy, acting as the head instructor. This visit is a part of Saudi Arabia’s larger goal of becoming a top global destination for sporting events.
Following the clinic, Dr. Ghassan Tashkandi, head of the Saudi Basketball Federation, expressed his excitement about LeBron James’ visit to Riyadh. He mentioned how priceless it was to witness the players’ reactions and smiles during the event. Dr. Tashkandi also noted that James’ enthusiasm for the sport and willingness to train with Saudi Arabian athletes is a significant advantage for the development and growth of basketball in the country. As expected, the children who had the chance to speak with James found it hard to contain their excitement.
Throughout my life, LeBron James has been a significant inspiration to me. The excitement I feel about being here today cannot be expressed in words. I’ve dedicated myself to becoming like him since childhood,” expressed Ibrahim Qattan, who is now 16 years old. Meanwhile, Abdullah Basha, a member of the opposing team, shared the same feeling, saying, “As a kid, you watch him on TV or your phone screen, so seeing him here performing today is just incredible.” It felt surreal and as if someone needed to pinch me to wake me up!
Saudi Arabia’s female basketball community has grown significantly over the past few years, with 240 players now making up the first generation of players. The kingdom has experienced a 54 percent increase in participation in basketball due to the success of grassroots programs.