Former NBA star David Robinson greets local youth at the 2017 Basketball Without Borders Europe in Israel. Former NBA star David Robinson greets local youth at the 2017 Basketball Without Borders Europe in Israel. Former NBA star David Robinson greets local youth at the 2017 Basketball Without Borders Europe in Israel. (Photo: Facebook)

Basketball Without Borders scores in Israel

International program seeks out future NBA stars.

Two months after a squad of NFL Hall of Famers visited Israel, a group of former NBA players did the same. The delegation was part of the Basketball Without Borders (BWB) program, a four-day camp for top teenage basketball talent, organized by the NBA and the International Basketball Federation, also known as FIBA. The participants work with professional basketball players and some of the world’s top coaches.

At right, former Toronto Raptors guard Anthony Parker with campers. At left, Golden State Warriors Assistant Coach Ron Adams demonstrates a move.At right, former Toronto Raptors guard Anthony Parker with campers. At left, Golden State Warriors Assistant Coach Ron Adams demonstrates a move. (Photo: Facebook)

This year event – the program's 16th – was hosted at the coastal Israeli city of Netanya. The seaside town is a sports lover's paradise with professional soccer, basketball and baseball teams based there. This is the first time that the BWB has stopped in Israel. Since its inception, more than 3,000 people have passed through the training camp, and 51 of them have gone on to play in the NBA. One of those was Omri Casspi, who now plays with the championship-winning Golden State Warriors.

NBA star Omri Casspi (left) and former Cavaliers' coach David Blatt (right) – both Israelis – reconnected at the event. data-verified=NBA star Omri Casspi (left) and former Cavaliers' coach David Blatt (right) – both Israelis – reconnected at the event. (Photo: Facebook)

Casspi, who was born just outside of Tel Aviv, was pivotal in bringing the BWB to his home country. “Basketball without Borders is an amazing program, and I’m fortunate that I was able to participate as a camper in 2005," said the 6-foot-9 forward. "It’s great to see the NBA and FIBA recognize Israel’s basketball development efforts by hosting the camp there for the first time."


David Robinson, who was on the United States' inaugural Dream Team at the 1992 Summer Olympics, was on hand to help out the student athletes. "I really do believe in Basketball Without Borders," said the former NBA star. "I really do believe that this is a great tool to go around the world. Being on the original 'Dream Team,' I saw the impact that basketball had internationally. I've seen now, over the last 25 years, the change that it has brought to the NBA."

Basketball Hall of Famer David Robinson and L.A. Clippers Forward Sam Dekker in Jerusalem.Basketball Hall of Famer David Robinson and L.A. Clippers Forward Sam Dekker in Jerusalem. (Photo: Facebook)

The goal of these camps is more than just learning new basketball skills. "They're about learning the fundamental values of sport, the fundamental values of life," said NBA Commissioner Adam Silver when he landed in Israel for the festivities. "It's about learning to work together. It's about discipline. It's about respect. It's about hard work."

MORE FROM THE GRAPEVINE:

Photos and SlideshowsPhotos and Slideshows

Related Topics: Sports