LeBron James, a renowned basketball player, paid a visit to Saudi Arabia for the first time. During his stay, he conducted a clinic for young Saudi Arabian basketball players, which included aspiring stars from the women’s national team. The President of the Saudi Basketball Federation, Dr. Ghassan Tashkandi, expressed his gratitude and appreciation for James’ willingness to train with their athletes, stating that his passion for the game is a massive boost to basketball in Saudi Arabia. Tashkandi praised James as a superstar, legend, and hero who transcends sports worldwide, and suggested that his visit will create lifelong memories for many Saudi boys and girls who had their dreams come true. As part of his visit to the country, James conducted a special clinic organized by the Saudi Arabian Basketball Federation at Al-Azem Academy, where participants had the opportunity to share the court with one of basketball’s greatest players and engage in a series of dribbling and shooting workouts.
James, who began his NBA journey 20 years ago, is a record-breaking athlete with an impressive record of four championships, four MVP awards, four Finals MVP awards, two Olympic golds, and has been named an All-Star an incredible 19 times. His visit to Saudi Arabia to take part in events like the FIBA 3X3 World Tour highlights the nation’s commitment to promoting healthier and more active lifestyles and showcasing it as a top global destination. Meeting their idol in person and playing basketball with him was a dream come true for young players like Ibrahim Qattan and Abdullah Basha, who spoke about their admiration and gratitude towards James. For Aseel Falatah, it was a unique opportunity to learn from a legendary athlete and be inspired to pursue her passion for sports.
During his inaugural visit to Saudi Arabia, LeBron James spearheaded clinics for women and youth, highlighting the Kingdom’s rapidly evolving sports culture. Over the last four years, Saudi’s sporting landscape has undergone a drastic transformation, with a 50% increase in the number of federations. Adults are now more physically active than ever before, with participation rates soaring from 13% in 2015 to 48%. The grassroots efforts implemented for basketball have paid off, evidenced by a 54% increase in participation since 2018, including 240 female players who make up the first generation of female basketball players. This surge in numbers has led to the rise in registered teams, which jumped from 45 in 2018 to an impressive 105 in 2023, including 28 all-female teams. Six national teams, both male and female, are currently representing Saudi Arabia in regional and global tournaments, signaling a new era of sports excellence in the Kingdom.