A Very American Coup By Michael – Louis Ingram, Editor-in-Chief...
ABA Adds Middle Eastern Team In Motown
INDIANAPOLIS — The American Basketball Association announced the addition of the Detroit Zafir (Arabic for Victorious) which will begin play this fall. The team will feature players from the Middle East (Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Qatar, Kuwait et al) and will play in the North Central Division.
According to Joe Newman, ABA CEO, “We are very pleased and excited about this new team and know that it will add much to the league. Detroit has one of the nation’s largest Middle Eastern populations, basketball is very popular and well played, and we expect this team to be very competitive.”
The Detroit Zafir is the brainchild of Paul Odoom, a native of the South Loop of Chicago. After attending the University of Michigan with a dual major in Finance and Economics, he began working for various commercial banks such as Citibank, Flagstar Bank, National City and Sallie Mae, all while serving as the Business Manager of the University of Michigan’s newspaper, the Michigan Journal.
He is now a trader of corporate bonds at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and newly appointed President/CEO of First Chicago Alliant, a venture capital and private investment bank.
“Since I was a kid, basketball has been one of my favorite sports. I grew up admiring Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Isaiah Thomas and of course, Michael Jordan,” said Odoom.
“I felt like it was my birthright being born in Chicago, that although I was living in the Detroit area at the time, I was cheering for the Chicago Bulls and Michael.”
“It was a wonderful time to be alive during the prime of his career, and now I am excited to bring that same childhood passion and enthusiasm for basketball to the Detroit area with an ABA team that will feature players from the Middle East. And, I’ll tell you one thing – the Detroit Zafir will be very competitive.”
He added, “teaming up with the ABA is a unique, historic opportunity. The league has produced some of the greatest basketball players, such as Dr. J., George Gervin and Moses Malone.”
“The Detroit area is made of hard working, good hearted people who come from many different backgrounds. The backgrounds are so different and diverse that it could serve as an intimidation factor as we try to get to know one another.”
“The beauty of sports, particularly basketball, is that it can serve as a medium for all of us to unite and cheer for the same team. Basketball is so global now because of the great success of the American Olympic Team back in 1992.”
“The Detroit area stands at a great advantage due to its Middle Eastern community. We are ready to make history happen, not just for the ABA, but for the people of Detroit.”