The Grant Slant

cebl provides an alley-oop

Karim Grant sheds some light on the current state of Canadian basketball and its efforts that is leading the world in diversifying coaching and administrative roles.
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A refreshing change to professional basketball is occurring north of the border that has seen an influx of minority hires, more specifically black men. The Canadian Elite Basketball League was founded in 2017 with just 6 teams, since then it has grown to 10 teams from 6 different provinces. 9 out of those 10 teams currently have either black coach, GM or assistant on their roster, a statistic that bullishly pushes the threshold of minority hirings in pro sports in North America.

The CEBL has given Canadian hoopers an extra avenue to explore that has leagues around the globe taken notice, but none that cater specifically to Canadian athletes looking to further their playing careers beyond post-secondary institutions. Although it’s already a very crowded Pro Basketball community, the CEBL has also provided meaningful opportunities for athletes to further pursue professional positions in the front office as coaches and general managers.

the CEBL has also provided meaningful opportunities for athletes to further pursue professional positions in the front office as coaches and general managers.

Some of those men, Jermaine Small, Charles Kissi, Jevohn Shepherd, Fabienne Perrin-Blizzard, Robert Sacre  are notable names in basketball circles who have extended their careers beyond the blood, sweat and tears of the hardwood court and have solidified themselves as Head Coaches, assistants and General Managers pioneering an ethnically charged foray into executive positions the likes of which have rarely been seen this side of the 49th parallel.

For example , “ In an era where minorities are often challenged when gaining positions of power and influence, there are very few professional sport leagues that house equitable statistics that show significant advancement when minorities play a major role.   An example of this is the career success of Antwi Atuahene.

The former NCAA Arizona State player is now using his in-depth knowledge of the game both and on and off the court.  Starting his career in Rexdale, attending Father Henry Carr Catholic Secondary School, Atuahene has played alongside Philadelphia 76ers guard James Harden, abroad in Mexico, and the US but is now on the home court with the CEBL (formerly the NBL).   Involved in a number of entrepreneurial and community-based endeavors, Atuahene has an undeniable hustle that includes a clothing line, basketball programs, entrepreneurial and philanthropic endeavors and a youth serving agency.

He’s also assisted in player and team development and acted as the event producer and executive director for the 3 The Harden Way INC. Now, Atuahene currently holds the position of Assistant General Manager and Head of Basketball Operations with the Niagara River Lions.  

The man of many hats presents a quiet confidence that’s largely felt when he enters a room. This kind of stature was instrumental in bringing attention to the likes of  Utah Jazz player, Xavier Sneed and  Duke Alumni, Javin Delaurier.  His motto, “conviction not cockiness” can be a testament to how he’s been both adaptable through his life as an athlete whose transitioned to front office.

As a fan and lover of sports, including baseball his talents don’t stop at just the CEBL. The 6 ft4 entrepreneur, is also the General Manager of the Mississauga Tigers. His drive, determination and proven track record for success aids  in how he was able to led the River Lions through a championship run in 2021. Although they fell short to the Edmonton Stingers, Atuahene is looking toward the future and building on the teams past success.

Another factor of how the River Lion organization will continue to thrive in seasons to come is the league’s standard for growth. Progressive hiring has made an exponential impact on the team whom by all estimations is a breeding group for coaches and execs alike that identify as BIPOC.  It’s no secret that this demographic is traditionally left out by professional basketball teams throughout the world. With the NBA recently announcing the new hires of more black coaches and executives including Ime Udoka with the Boston Celtics and Darvin Hamm of the Los Angeles Lakers, Canadians have been able to keep up the pace just as well.

It’s no secret that this demographic is traditionally left out by professional basketball teams throughout the world.

With the CEBL effectually creating an atmosphere of inclusion and acceptance that has recognized the talent but also experience that these young men and women possess, by placing them at the table, it’s no longer about giving out scraps … it’s time to eat.  

Atuahene and other coaches and executives within the league have an incredible chance to shift the narrative that life after sports is not obsolete for the Canadian athlete.

Moving into a more modern and contemporary structure, seeking a hand out isn’t needed when already placed in positions to provide a hand up for those who come after them.  As the saying goes, with great power comes and inevitable responsibility, Atuahene has proven he’s up for the challenge. Still with lots of work to do, it’s about paving the way for the next generation of youth in Rexdale and other urban GTA neighborhoods. As Atuahene ponders what the future holds for him, a budding mogul with a consistently evolving resume shows that he will undoubtedly transcend race and culture that speaks to his true talent in the boardroom, as he continues to inspire others. Antwi Atuahene has birthed a hustle mindset which influenced his career making boss moves within the Canadian sports world that has affected the enthusiasm of young men just like himself, who come from humble beginnings. He has made a new way in a world that seems to be constantly shifting but Antuahene isn’t moving toward the finish line anytime soon.

Karim Grant is a former professional football player who has spent time in both the NFL and CFL. His love for hip-hop spans nearly three decades of beats, rhymes and fashion. His love for sports is equally expansive, as he’s made money playing one sport and has made enemies playing countless others. If he’s not on the field or the hard court coaching inner-city youth, he’s either reading or listening to your favourite artist’s favourite artist while exercising his competitive demons at your local gym. Grant has never been one to mince words on either subject of hip-hop or sports – or anything for that matter – and he’s not about to start anytime soon.

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