Native American Basketball Invitational (NABI) to be Honored by Phoenix Suns andPhoenix Mercuryfor 20-year History
November 28, 2022
Phoenix, Ariz.–The Native American Basketball Invitational (NABI) will be honored during the Phoenix Suns game on Tuesday, November 22, 2022. Foundedby Mark West, aformer Phoenix Suns player,the late Scott Podleskiand GinaMarie Scarpa,NABI isthe largest all Native American basketball tournament in North America,with 136 teams representing Tribal communities from across the country, competing each summer.
"Our20-yearcollaboration with the Suns andMercury has elevated NABI significantly.The tournament showcases'Rezball', a popular form of basketball played on tribal lands all over the Americas," said NABI co-founder, GinaMarie Scarpa. "Our annual tournamenthighlights the overlooked talent of our Indigenous athleteswho play the championship games on the same wood floor that both the Suns and Mercury compete on," added Scarpa.
"For two decades, thePhoenix Suns andPhoenix Mercury have led the way and setthe stage for other NBA teams to embrace and supportIndigenous youth and communitiesin their respective states. This momentmarks a significant time for NABI, the Suns, Mercury, and all Indigenous peopleacross Arizonaand beyond," said Stephen R. Lewis, Governor of the Gila River Indian Community.
"The Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Mercury are honored to celebrate 20 years of partnership with NABI," said Graham Wincott, Senior Director of Marketingfor the Suns. "Our longstanding relationship with NABI is the foundation of the ORIGINATIV program representing Arizona's 22 Tribal Nations and celebrating the shared love of basketball. We look forward to continuing our work together and helping to showcase young athletes from tribal communities across the country for years to come."
NABI is an Indigenous women-led national sporting event. In 2007, NABI wasthedriving force behind the NCAA's decision to change their "same state rule." NABI became the first all Native American basketball tournament sanctioned by the NCAA respecting Tribal Sovereigntyand not state demographics.And in 2022, NABI becamethe first all Native American basketball tournamentfeatured on the major sports network, ESPN+.
Each summer, NABI has an estimated$1.5 million-dollareconomicimpact to the city of Phoenix. In addition, NABI has awarded over $400,000 in grants and college scholarships.