As I mentioned when talking about Samoans and Football, I have observed that what sports a populations tends to be good at depends on what sports people in that population play when they are kids.
However, not everyone can be an professional athlete. There seems to be a heredity component to it.
For African Americans, they seem to disproportionately have the talents needed for basketball.
Here’s an excerpt from an older article, from 1997, from Sports Illustrated…
But many people find it hard to believe that economic incentives alone account for black athletic dominance. These observers offer a simple theory: Blacks dominate sports because they are faster, quicker, better. “If you want a gauge, go to the track meets,” says Bowden. “Who’s winning all those track meets?” Certainly there is a chuckling acceptance, among both blacks and whites, of the inability of whites to leap high and run fast. It’s not that whites won’t play anymore, the thinking goes: It’s that they can’t.
When coaches and players talk about the issue, they usually use the logic of the obvious: Open your eyes. Look around. “If 80 percent of the league is black, that means that black players are that much better than white players,” says Orlando Magic center Rony Seikaly.
The perception of black superiority isn’t found only among white coaches and players. A plurality (34%) of black males in SI’s poll agreed with the statement, “Whites are not as good athletes as African-Americans.” Some 42% of the black males who attend racially mixed schools said that they sensed their white peers backing off from sports because they felt they couldn’t compete with blacks. Jason Webb, a nationally ranked backstroker at Virginia who is half black, half white, says, “In general, it just seems that blacks are more athletic.”
Such talk may not be politically correct, but the underlying fact—that at the elite level blacks are the fastest runners, the most prodigious leapers, the dominant force on NBA courts and NFL fields—is unassailable. While the scientific jury, faced with intriguing preliminary evidence, still debates whether black athletes possess innate physical advantages, the white athlete works in a world that seems already convinced of the answer.