Gentry Embarks on Trip to Brazil

By Stefan Swiat,
Posted: July 27, 2011

Suns Head Coach Alvin Gentry is no stranger to being an ambassador.

About 10 years ago, when Gentry was coaching for the Miami Heat, he was a part of the first contingent of representatives from the NBA to partake in the league’s program called “Basketball without Borders.”

The mission of “Basketball without Borders” is to foster global basketball development while creating a community outreach program that unites young basketball players, promotes the sport and encourages positive social change in the areas of education, health and wellness.

On that inaugural tip, Gentry was joined by NBA legends Wes Unseld, Alex English and Dikembe Mutombo as they traveled to few different locations in Africa. In addition to Kenya and Durban, the group visited Johannesburg, South Africa.

“Apartheid wasn’t even lifted then,” Gentry recalled. “It was before Nelson Mandela was president. We met him and had dinner with him. It was really a great thing.”

Kim Bohuny, who currently oversees all of the “Basketball without Borders” programs for the NBA, also traveled with Gentry on that initial trip to Africa. With more trips planned for Europe, South America and Africa this summer, Bohuny reached out to the Suns Head coach to see if he’d be interested in traveling to Brazil.

“She called me up to see if I could possibly go to Brazil and help them out,” Gentry said. “I’ve never been to Brazil and I’m just looking forward to seeing and experiencing the country.”

Although soccer reigns as king in Brazil, basketball's popularity has been emerging the last few years. In 2009, the Brazilian men’s national team captured the FIBA Americas Championship.

“I think the basketball has picked up a little bit there, although soccer is still the No. 1 sport by far there,” Gentry said. “There are some guys that have become some pretty good players out of there.”

Joining Gentry in Brazil will be former players Adonal Foyle, Allan Houston, Sam Perkins and Dominque Wilkins. Gentry, who grew up in the same part of North Carolina as Wilkins, has known the “Human Highlight Film” for years.

In addition to Wilkins, Gentry also coached Houston when the two were together in Detroit during the early 1990s. Gentry and his band of basketball ambassadors will have the opportunity to train some of Latin America’s top youth players that are 19 and under.

Gentry left Wednesday for Brazil, with the camp lasting from July 29 to August 1.

Any questions or comments for's Stefan Swiat? Click here to send him your comments by e-mail.