Israel national team and Minnesota Timberwolves forward Omri Casspi took part in Basketball Without Borders Europe as a player in 2005 and will do so as a guide this year, with the camp to be held at The Wingate Institute in Netanya during August, the first time the event will take place in Israel..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Wingate Institute in Netanya hosted on Monday some of the biggest names in basketball - past, present and possibly future - with the 16th edition of Basketball without Borders Europe arriving in Israel.
The National Basketball Association (NBA), the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) and the Israel Basketball Association are organizing the NBA and FIBA’s global basketball development and community outreach program, which is being held in Israel for the first time.
Basketball without Borders Europe brings together the top male and female players born in 2000 from across Europe to learn directly from NBA and FIBA players, legends and coaches and to compete against the best young players from the continent.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver traveled to Israel to witness the event, with Hall of Famer David Robinson headlining the list of former players taking part in the camp, which also includes Maccabi Tel Aviv legend Anthony Parker.
The campers are also being coached by current NBA and FIBA players, including: Omri Casspi (Golden State Warriors), Jerryd Bayless (Philadelphia 76ers), Sam Dekker (LA Clippers), Gal Mekel (Gran Canaria) and Norman Powell (Toronto Raptors).
“This is our 17th year of Basketball without Borders. We have had around 3,000 young men and women participating,” said Silver. “Fifty-one of those young men have made it to the NBA which is quite incredible. Our women’s program began a few years ago and we are expecting some of the women participating today to make it to the WNBA one day.”
Silver spoke to the campers about the importance of what they will be learning off the court and said it is thanks to programs like Basketball without Borders that the NBA has become such an international league. “These are life lessons over the next few days that I promise you will take with you for the rest of your lives,” he explained. “I think one of the reasons the talent pool is getting bigger is because of programs like Basketball without Borders and the number of young people playing this sport on a global basis. Last season, 25 percent of NBA players were born outside of the United States.”
The camp will also include a variety of NBA Cares and Jr. NBA community outreach efforts with youth in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv in partnership with local community organizations.
Current and former NBA, FIBA and USA Basketball (USA B) coaches Ron Adams (Warriors), Johnnie Bryant (Jazz), Dan Burke (Pacers), Kurt Rambis (Knicks) and Don Showalter (USA B) are serving as coaches in the camp. Former Cleveland Cavaliers head coach David Blatt was also present on Monday and shared some of his experiences with the youngsters. Cavs General Manager Koby Altman, Spurs General Manager R.C. Buford, Nuggets President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly and Raptors President Masai Ujiri are also participating.
“I’m thrilled to welcome you all to my country,” said Casspi, who took part in the camp in 2005. “It is great to see the NBA recognize Israeli basketball development. This week is also about the power of sport to bring people of different backgrounds together.”
Robinson, who is a 10-time NBA All- Star, the 1995 NBA MVP, a two-time NBA Champion (1999 and 2003) and a twotime Olympic gold medal winner (1992, 1996), explained the importance of the camp in his eyes.
“Basketball is an amazing sport that brings people together,” he noted. “It makes you play with the guy next to you and trust the guy next to you. For young people who grow up in an environment with so many cultures it is a great way to teach people how to trust other people.”