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NABI sets dates for 2021

The resumption of NABI is set for July 2021. (Alonso Parra photo)

The Native American Basketball Invitational (NABI), which annually features more than 1,000 young players from Indian Country, including the Seminole Tribe, is planning for the tournament to be held in 2021. The Seminole Tribe is one of seven major sponsors of NABI.

Organizers announced Nov. 2 that they are shooting for July 11-17, 2021, for the invitational’s return in Phoenix. If all goes according to plan, games will be played in the Phoenix area with championship tilts set for Talking Stick Resort Arena, home of the NBA’s Suns and WNBA’s Mercury. Similar to just about everything in the sports world these days, the dates and location are subject to change.

The 2020 edition was cancelled due to Covid-19.

 “Though it was a tough, heart-wrenching decision to cancel the [2020] program, it will remain the right decision,” GinaMarie Scarpa, president & CEO of the NABI Foundation, said in a statement. “We did what we had to do to keep our youth and communities safe. We look forward to bringing the program back in 2021 (virus willing) and will continue to work closely with CDC guideline, state and tribal health departments to ensure the NABI Foundation implements safety measures to protect our youth and communities.”

The foundation said the 2020 tournament was scheduled to have 136 teams and more than 1,300 Indigenous players from North American and New Zealand. If held next summer, it will be the 18th edition of NABI.

In addition to hundreds of games, NABI also provides the players with a vast array of other opportunities, including educational and instructional. The foundation plans to offer its educational youth summit, college and career fair, parade of teams and the junior NABI camp.

“The NABI Foundation will continue to monitor the situation and amend the program according to imposed safety guidelines closer to the program dates. A full schedule of events will be released mid-June” said Lynette Lewis, director of basketball 0perations and program development.

NABI also plans to officially launch its own brand of sports apparel called NABI Nation, which will include custom team uniforms. The brand is scheduled to be made available throughout 2021. Previously, the line has only been available during the week of the invitational.

The foundation will host year-end fundraising campaigns that will be posted on @NABI Foundation social media and the foundation’s website – –  starting in November. All proceeds will benefit foundation programs.

Kevin Johnson
Kevin Johnson is senior editor. He has worked for The Seminole Tribune since 2014. He was previously an editor, photographer and reporter for newspapers in Southwest Florida and Connecticut. Contact Kevin at