Former NBA star Ian Mahinmi, who won the 2011 Championship with the Dallas Mavericks, has tipped the Milwaukee Bucks to defend their title this year, even ahead of a ‘young’ Mavs side.
Mahinmi, who was a guest at the Basketball Africa League [BAL] launch of the refurbished Tersana Sports Club basketball court in Cairo, felt that the Bucks, who lead the Bulls 1-0 in the Playoffs, were peaking at the right time.
“Obviously, it’s really hard to go against the champs, especially when I feel that the Bucks have gotten better over the summer,” Mahinmi told ESPN.
“They’ve played tremendously well to [get into] a position where they’re getting to the playoffs with momentum; they’re getting in the playoffs healthy. If I had to put my money on something, it would be the Bucks [winning the title].
“You have outsiders like the Warriors who are very interesting, because you know that they have champs pedigree in them and they’re now getting healthy.
“It’s hard to bet against them and you now have teams like the Mavs, the [Utah] Jazz and Miami [Heat] that have been playing good basketball too, but if you ask me, the Bucks are going to be very hard to beat in a seven-game series. “
Adrian Wojnarowski reports on the uncertain status of Luka Doncic for the Mavericks against the Jazz.
Mahinmi tipped the Jazz to come out on top in their playoff series against his former side, having already taken a 1-0 lead over the Mavs.
“If you want my honest opinion on that: I think they [the Mavericks] are a very talented team. I think they’re a little young, [not] in the way of age, but inexperience when it comes to playoff time, “he said.
“I think that playing the Utah Jazz in the first round might be really tough. I think it’s not a great matchup for them. I think that the Jazz are going to take the series.
“It’s nothing easy [for the Jazz], but it’s hard to go against experience. I feel like the Jazz have been through the fire and not succeeded, so when you’re playing with a chip on your shoulders, it’s always a little different. “
Mahinmi, who was born in Rouen, France to a Beninese father and Jamaican mother, has immersed himself in NBA Africa projects since formally retiring two years ago, investing millions of dollars in their projects.
According to him, this has brought more value to his life than his basketball career, which included teams like the San Antonio Spurs, Indiana Pacers and Washington Wizards, in addition to his title-winning Mavs stint.
“I call it an organic transition [from playing to serving NBA Africa]. Over my career, I’ve done many camps in France, America, and Africa. Where I felt I had the most impact was here [Africa]with camps at home in Benin, “he said.
“This opportunity [with NBA Africa] presented itself right when I was thinking [of whether or not I would be] retiring. It felt so natural, because now, I’m passionate and I’m happy where I’m at.
“The people that I talk to on an everyday basis are the people who I’ve built relationships with for years now, so it’s like an organic way of growing.
“I feel at home now and I feel what I’m doing may even be more important than the last 15 years, so I can’t complain.”