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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Basketball w/o Borders; 27/14/17

Yao Ming at Bw/oB Asia
I can't believe it's been ten years since the NBA began the Basketball w/o Borders program. It was 2001 when a group at the NBA, together with a wonderful guy named Zach Messetti at the UN, worked to form the concept.  (At the time, we hosted clinics but they were all called different things, like World Coaching Clinics, Africa 100 camp, etc). We worked together to bring all the players from the former Yugoslavia together to coach the kids from the five provinces that had been torn apart by the war in the late 80s and early '90s.  The work, much of it performed by my wonderful NBA colleague, Helen Wong, did one big thing.  It made a difference. (see 27 camps in 14 countries and the fact 17 kids made it to the NBA and scores of others were able to get college scholarships and all gave back to their native land).
Here is the story by the Associated Press:

NEW YORK -- The NBA is celebrating the 10th anniversary of its Basketball without Borders program, the first that won't involve active players because of the lockout.

Camps will be held in Slovenia, Johannesburg, South Africa, and Rio De Janeiro. The Slovenian camp will be the first held in one of the former Yugoslav republics, where the 50 campers who attended the inaugural camp in 2001 came from.

The camps, organized by the NBA and FIBA, bring young players together for on-court instruction and life-skills seminars. The campers won't get any coaching from active players, who are prevented from taking part in league activities during the lockout.

Commissioner David Stern said during the finals the league's community outreach initiatives would continue without them, relying on retired players.

Former Kings center Vlade Divac from Serbia, who was instrumental in the creation of the Basketball without Borders program, will return for the camp in Slovenia.

"Basketball was always a source of pride in the former Yugoslavia, and I thought it would be a great vehicle through which to teach tolerance and mutual respect after a period of such division and conflict," Divac said Tuesday in a statement. "I am amazed at how the program has grown over the last decade and couldn't be prouder to participate in this special anniversary celebration."

Dominique Wilkins and Allan Houston will help run the camp in Brazil, site of the first Americas camp in 2004. NBA Global Ambassador Dikembe Mutombo will lead the camp as it returns to Johannesburg for the eighth time.

There have been 27 Basketball without Borders camps in 14 countries since its inception. Seventeen campers have gone on to be drafted into the NBA.

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