While the ugliness of the Donald Sterling saga drags on and further gives the NBA an embarrassing headache it's trying to rid itself of, the NBA announced on Tuesday the slate of one of its more encouraging community outreach programs in Basketball Without Borders.
The program that provides camps for kids across the globe and expands the NBA's presence internationally will feature events in Rome, Tapei, and will return to Johannesburg, South Africa for the 11th year.
From the NBA:
Basketball without Borders, the NBA and FIBA's global basketball development program, has reached 1,700 campers from more than 120 countries, with 28 BWB campers drafted into the NBA.
BWB Europe will tip off the summer schedule from June 2 - 5 in Rome. Highlighting the camp will be three current Italian NBA players and former BWB campers: Danilo Gallinari (BWB 2003, Denver Nuggets), Andrea Bargnani (BWB 2003, New York Knicks), and Italian national team captain Gigi Datome (BWB 2003, Detroit Pistons). In addition, Brandon Knight (Milwaukee Bucks) and Al Horford (Atlanta Hawks) will also participate. BWB Europe 2014 will bring together the top 50 players born in 1997 from more than 25 European countries. The camp was held previously in Treviso, Italy in 2001, 2003, 2004 and 2005.
BWB Asia will tip off in Taipei from June 13 - 16. John Salmons (Toronto Raptors), Ronny Turiaf (Minnesota Timberwolves) and Cody Zeller (Charlotte Bobcats) will participate. Eight-time NBA All-Star Yao Ming will make a one-day appearance. BWB Asia 2014 will bring together the top 50 players born in 1996 or 1997 from more than 20 Asian and Oceanic countries.
BWB Africa will return to Johannesburg for the 11th time from August 5 - 8. The camp will be led by former All-Star Andrei Kirilenko (Brooklyn Nets) and Thabo Sefolosha (Oklahoma City Thunder), along with NBA head coaches Dwane Casey (Toronto Raptors), Brian Shaw (Denver Nuggets), Jeff Hornacek (Phoenix Suns) and NBA Global Ambassador Dikembe Mutombo. BWB Africa 2014 will bring together the top 60 African players born in 1997 or 1998 from more than 20 African countries.
“Basketball without Borders helped me become the player and man I am today, both on and off the court,” said Gallinari. “Learning basketball and life skills from NBA players and coaches is a special opportunity that I greatly appreciated in 2003, and that I know this year's campers will greatly appreciate. I look forward to bringing the amazing BWB program back to Italy with some of my fellow countrymen, and to coaching some of the most talented teenagers in Europe. I can't wait to get started.”
Through NBA Cares, the league's global social responsibility program, all three camps will include extensive community outreach efforts led by NBA players and coaches. Through grassroots basketball development, community service, and life skill seminars, BWB will focus on teaching the values of the game, including leadership, respect, character and health and wellness. In addition, donations of school supplies, clothing, books, games, basketball equipment and other necessities will be made to local community-based organizations.
Nike, a BWB global partner since 2002, will again outfit the campers and coaches of all three camps with Nike apparel and footwear.
Since its inception, the NBA and FIBA have staged 36 BWB camps in 21 cities across 18 countries on five continents. More than 150 different current and former NBA/WNBA players have joined nearly 140 NBA team personnel from all 30 NBA teams.
It's important to note these efforts even as the Sterling saga unfolds. This program is one of the best things the NBA does not only for fans of the game across the world, but for its players. The embassadors involved typically return having undergone personal growth and often speak of their experiences as life changing. The coaches involved in the Johannesburg trip should make that a particularly notable event.