By Chris Vivlamore
As it turns out, Al Horford’s offseason trip to South Africa for Basketball Without Borders became about more than just sports.
The Hawks center has joined five other players in support of NBA Cares ‘No Hype’ campaign to reduce the demand for ivory and rhino horns.
“Last summer I went to Africa,” Horford said Thursday night when addressing the media about his season-ending surgery to repair a torn pectoral muscle. “We did Basketball Without Borders with the NBA in South Africa. That was a life-changing experience for me. We got a chance to go out on a safari and being out there for a week it just changes your life. It is probably the best trip I’ve done.
“Being that close to nature and getting a chance to talk to the locals and seeing all the problems they are having with poaching. When the NBA brought it to me I was very passionate about it. I want to do something about it to raise awareness about it and get people to notice and know what is going on.”
Horford has been joined by the Lakers’ Pau Gasol, the Knicks’ Tyson Chandler, the Thunders’ Serge Ibaka and Thabo Sefolosha and the Bulls’ Joakim Noah. The players filmed video messages to raise awareness for the cause.
According to a release by from the NBA, ‘No Hype’ is part of WildAid’s “when the buying stops, the killing can too” campaign led by former NBA player Yao Ming, Jackie Chan, The Duke of Cambridge, David Beckham, and other international icons. According to the league the group has attributed with drastically reducing shark fin soup consumption in China among its causes.
According to the organization, an estimated 30,000 elephants are killed annually. The number of poached rhinos was 1,000 in South Africa alone last year. That is compared to 668 in 2012 and 13 in 2007.
“You kill those animals and it’s like killing the world,” said Ibaka, a Congolese citizen, in a statement.
The message aired during TNT’s doubleheader broadcast Thursday.