BWB Europe, Day One Recap
Day 1 (Aug. 8, 2011) -- Basketball without Borders (BWB) Europe 2011 tipped off today in Ljubljana, Slovenia, bringing together NBA legends, coaches, and 50 of the top youth basketball players from more than 25 countries across Europe. This marks the first BWB camp to be held in one of the former Yugoslav republics and celebrates the program’s 10th anniversary. The 2001 inaugural camp, held in Treviso, Italy, featured 50 campers from former Yugoslav republics. The 2011 BWB Europe camp is reuniting many of the original NBA players who coached during the inaugural camp, including Vlade Divac (Serbia), Rasho Nesterovic (Slovenia), Dalibor Bagaric (Croatia), Bruno Sundov (Croatia), and Dragan Tarlac (Serbia).
The campers began their first morning with a Life Skills session at Tivoli Hall, where they received an overview of the camp and its goals. The campers then asked questions, ranging from what NBA players do in the offseason to how they can make it to the NBA. Former NBA Coach Jay Triano helped lead the discussion and advised the group that self-motivation is key and emphasized the importance of watching what you eat and taking care of your body.
After the press conference, the campers hit the court for the first time during the morning skills stations, allowing legends and coaches to begin their evaluations in preparation for that evening’s BWB Draft. A highlight of the afternoon was a basketball clinic for 75 Special Olympics athletes led by the legends and coaches - the first of three NBA Cares community outreach events. Bostjan “Boki” Nachbar, a passionate supporter of the organization, was especially vocal, providing encouragement and on-the-court tips while working with the group on basketball fundamentals. The day concluded with a second opportunity for the legends and coaches to evaluate the campers during a series of scrimmages.
A Historical Perspective:
“The Canadians invented it, the Yugoslavians perfected it”
The 10th anniversary BWB marks the first camp held in one of the former Yugoslav republics, from which the 50 inaugural BWB campers hailed.
The region has long been a hotbed for basketball, with the Yugoslav national team of the late 1980s and early 1990s featuring what was perhaps the greatest generation in the history of Yugoslav basketball.
A common quip about basketball in the former Yugoslav republics is, "The Canadians invented it, the Yugoslavs perfected it." The early NBA pioneers – including the late Dražen Petrović, Vlade Divac, Toni Kukoč, Dino Rađa, Predrag Danilović and Žarko Paspalj – paved the way for the ever- increasing number of international players in our game today.
“You may have the moon, but we have the World”
A key turning point came in 1970, when the then Yugoslavia claimed its first World Championship gold medal. For added significance, this years’ BWB Europe camp is taking place in Tivoli Hall, the very arena where the Yugoslavian National team claimed gold. After defeating the USA in a pivotal game just one year after the moon landing, a banner hung in the stadium read, “You may have the moon, but we have the World.” Such was the significance of the victory, which set the tone for Yugoslav dominance in international basketball for many years to come.