Suns Blanks, Gillespie to Take Part in Basketball Without Borders

Posted: Aug. 23, 2011

Suns General Manager Lance Blanks and assistant coach Noel Gillespie will join NBA Legends Patrick Ewing, Alonzo Mourning, and Dikembe Mutombo for Basketball without Borders (BWB) Africa 2011. Returning to South Africa for the eighth time Sept. 1-4, BWB is the NBA’s and FIBA’s global basketball development and community outreach program, which uses sports to influence positive social change.

The trip will reunite Georgetown University alumni Ewing, Mourning, and Mutombo for their first trip to Africa together since the three were part of a contingent of NBA players, officials, coaches, and legends that traveled to Kenya, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire), and South Africa for basketball youth clinics in 1994.

Selected as one of the 50 Greatest Basketball Players of All-Time, Ewing was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame after a 17-year NBA career which included eleven NBA All-Star appearances. Mourning, a seven-time NBA All Star, played most of his 16-year career with the Miami Heat earning two NBA Defensive Player of the Year Awards and helping lead the team to an NBA championship in 2006. In his 18 years in the league, Mutombo, now an NBA Global Ambassador, was one of the most prolific shot blockers in the history of the game and was an eight-time NBA All-Star and four-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year.

“I had such an amazing experience in 1994 that I jumped at the opportunity to return to South Africa with Dikembe and Alonzo to participate in Basketball without Borders,” said Ewing, currently serving as assistant coach for the Orlando Magic. “The African continent has a huge reserve of untapped talent and I look forward to helping these young players’ development both on and off the court.”

Ewing, Mourning, and Mutombo will be joined by former Slam Dunk Champion Dee Brown; NBA All-Star and two-time NBA Three-Point Champion Jeff Hornacek; NBA Legend Bo Outlaw and WNBA Legends Tamika Raymond and Edna Campbell. NBA coaches in attendance include Harold Ellis (Detroit Pistons); Marc Eversley (Toronto Raptors); Lionel Hollins (Memphis Grizzlies); Noel Gillespie (Phoenix Suns); Mark Hughes (New York Knicks); Patrick Hunt (FIBA Coach); BJ Johnson (Houston Rockets); Milt Newton (Washington Wizards); and Monty Williams (New Orleans Hornets). Dionne Calhoun from the 2011 NBA Champion Dallas Mavericks and Koichi Sato (Washington Wizards) join as camp trainers. Phoenix Suns General Manager Lance Blanks and Denver Nuggets General Manager Masai Ujiri return as camp directors. In addition, Suns assistant video coordinator Nick U’ren, who has worked as an assistant administrator for the NBA on Basketball without Borders the last several years, will also be at this site.

“As the appetite for basketball continues to grow across Africa, we are excited to welcome such legendary players as coaches for this year’s BWB,” said Amadou Gallo Fall, NBA Vice President for Development, Africa. “The young athletes selected for this camp will have the unique chance to learn from the greatest in the game and to interact with their peers, providing an important step in their careers and futures and an unforgettable experience for all involved.”

Since the inaugural ‘Africa 100 Camp’ in 2003, more than 100 NBA players and team personnel and more than 500 campers have participated in the camps in Johannesburg and Dakar, with five participants having made the transition to the NBA.

BWB Africa will be hosted by the King Edward VII School in Johannesburg and will feature top players 18 and under from across Africa, as selected by the NBA and FIBA, training under NBA and WNBA Legends and coaches, and competing against their peers. Campers receive top-level instruction on-court and participate in daily life-skills seminars focused on values of the game such as leadership, character development, and living a healthy lifestyle. Through NBA Cares, the NBA legends and coaches also participate in extensive community outreach efforts highlighted by the creation of places for children and families to live, learn or play including new technology centers, libraries and basketball courts.

Basketball without Borders marketing partners since 2002, Nike will again outfit all the camp participants and coaches with Nike footwear and apparel and Spalding will provide basketballs. Additional BWB Africa marketing partners include South African Airways and Sprite.

The NBA has a long history in the African continent and opened its first office in Africa in 2010, appointing Amadou Gallo Fall as Vice President for Development. NBA games, featuring ten players from Africa, were broadcast to fans in 55 African countries and territories in five languages for the 2010-11 season. Through NBA Cares, the NBA has helped create 30 places to live, learn or play in Africa, including technology centers, libraries, youth hostels, dining facilities, health clinics, homes and basketball courts. For the past nine years the NBA has conducted Basketball without Borders Africa, a basketball instructional camp for young people that also promotes leadership, education, sportsmanship, and healthy living. More than 100 NBA players and team personnel and more than 500 campers have participated in the camps in Johannesburg and Dakar.