Press Releases

    UNIS/NAR/745
    10 April 2002

    BASKETBALL STARS JOIN THE UN TO PROMOTE
    COOPERATION AND UNDERSTANDING BETWEEN
    GREEK AND TURKISH YOUTHS

    The UN, NBA, the Turkish and Hellenic Basketball Federations, and FIBA
    come together for the second annual Basketball without Borders Camp

    VIENNA, 10 April (UN Information Service) -- The National Basketball Association’s (NBA) Hidayet ("Hedo") Turkoglu and Predrag ("Peja") Stojakovic of the Sacramento Kings will lead a group of Turkish and Greek basketball players serving as coaches for the second annual Basketball without Borders in Istanbul, Turkey, July 5-8, NBA Commissioner David Stern announced today. Basketball without Borders is a summer camp for 12-14-year-olds designed to promote friendship and understanding through sport.

    The inaugural Basketball without Borders took place in July 2001 in Treviso, Italy, with Vlade Divac of the Sacramento Kings, Toni Kukoc of the Atlanta Hawks and five other NBA players from the former Yugoslavia uniting to work with 50 children from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, FYRO Macedonia, Slovenia and Yugoslavia. This year’s Basketball without Borders brings together 50 young Greeks and Turks who will be selected to participate on the basis of their basketball skills and leadership potential.

    The campers will be divided into four teams (Grizzlies, Kings, Pistons and Suns) without regard to their nationality. In addition to basketball instruction and competition, the young players will share living quarters with their new teammates, eat three meals a day together and participate in seminars led by the United Nations intended to promote leadership, conflict resolution and living a healthy life without drugs.

    "Sports has an unparalleled ability to stimulate important discussions among people who might otherwise not be brought together. Basketball without Borders is an opportunity for the international basketball community to use the global popularity of our sport to deliver messages to a diverse group of young people about the importance of tolerance, peace, education and the fight against drugs," said Stern. "The NBA and its players are proud to continue to work with the United Nations and to join forces with the Fédération Internationale de Basketball (FIBA) and the Turkish and Hellenic Basketball Federations on this important initiative."

    "Basketball without Borders is an excellent example of the growing spirit of understanding between Greece and Turkey," said Ambassador Sumru Noyan, Director for Operations and Analysis at the United Nations International Drug Control Programme (UNDCP). "It is my hope that the young campers from the two countries will show the people of the world that their common love of basketball and a desire to live a healthy life free of drugs can help promote stronger ties between Turkey and Greece."

    The coaches for the camp include some of the NBA’s emerging stars. Peja Stojakovic is originally from Yugoslavia but played professional basketball in Greece and is fluent in Greek. Hedo Turkoglu is a native of Turkey and a key member of the Turkish national basketball team. Jake Tsakalidis of the Phoenix Suns and Antonis Fotsis of the Memphis Grizzlies are both originally from Greece. Turkish international players Mirsad Turkcan (CSKA Moscow), Ibrahim Kutluay (Panathinaikos BSA Athens) and Mehmet Okur (Efes Pilsen Istanbul and a draftee of the Detroit Pistons) will also coach at the camp.

    "I am very happy to be taking part in this event that brings together children from Greece and Turkey," said Stojakovic. "I have great memories from my playing days in Greece, and I would like to share my experiences with the young players."

    "Turkey is my home, so I am glad to be going back there for this very important cause," said Turkoglu. "This is a great way to bring people of different cultures and nationalities together."

    "It is a pleasure for us to work together with the global basketball community on this important initiative," said George Vassilakopoulos, President of FIBA Europe and the Hellenic Basketball Federation. "Sport - and in this particular case, basketball - constitutes an utmost social expression and, as a bridge between the people of Greece and Turkey, can teach young people the importance of tolerance and teamwork. The participation of our basketball stars at this camp will only add to the experience of the children taking part."

    "As the governing body for Turkish basketball, we are proud to be hosting such a meaningful event, which will embrace basketball idols and young basketball players, together within a concept of international peace, friendship and solidarity with a special emphasis on the fight against drugs," said Tugay Demirel, President of the Turkish Basketball Federation. "We have always enjoyed a close basketball relationship with Greece even during former difficult times and certainly believe that Basketball without Borders will be a very special event to be long remembered by all of its participants."

    "The first Basketball without Borders proved to be a great success, and I’m sure we can build on that with this year’s event in Turkey," said FIBA Deputy Secretary General Patrick Baumann. "I would like to thank the UN, the NBA and the Turkish and Hellenic Basketball Federations for coming together to promote not only basketball but good international relations."

    The Darussafaka Ayhan Sahenk facility in downtown Istanbul will host the event in conjunction with the Turkish and Hellenic Basketball Federations and the Fédération Internationale de Basketball (FIBA). Corporate co-sponsors include Sprite, Nike, Champion Europe, Garanti Bank of Turkey and Spalding.

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    For more information, please contact:

    Zach Messitte, United Nations, messitte@un.org, (212) 963-2710
    Helen Wong, NBA, hwong@nba.com, (212) 407-8299