26 March 2001



United Nations Drug Control Program (UNDCP), FIBA, the National Basketball Association (NBA), Benetton and blu team up for basketball camp

VIENNA, 26 March (UN Information Service) – Nine NBA players, led by veterans Vlade Divac of the Sacramento Kings and a native of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and Toni Kukoc of the Atlanta Hawks and a native of Croatia, will conduct a basketball camp in Treviso, Italy June 29 – July 2 for young players (aged 12-14) from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Slovenia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, it was announced today by NBA Commissioner David Stern.

"The NBA is proud to work with the United Nations to promote goodwill around the world and to use the sport of basketball as a common language for global peace, friendship and sportsmanship," said Stern. "Sports transcends boundaries and this opportunity demonstrates that sports has a capacity to bring people together while teaching good messages to kids such as the importance of education, fighting against drug abuse and the importance of understanding people."

The three-day event, "Basketball without Borders," ("Košarka bez granica") also will include seminars designed to promote leadership, conflict resolution and living a healthy life without drugs as part of the celebration of the United Nations International Day against Drug Abuse (June 26, 2001).

"This is a wonderful example of the public and private sectors working together to make a difference in the lives of young people," said UN Under Secretary-General Pino Arlacchi, the Executive Director of UNDCP. "These players are heroes to young people around the world who give meaning to the slogan, "Sports. Not Drugs".

"I have always found that love of sports, and for me, basketball in particular, can bring people together," said Divac, who is also a UNDCP Goodwill Ambassador for Sports against Drugs.

Benetton, which owns the Treviso basketball team in the Italian league, is a co-sponsor of the camp and will host the 50 young participants (10 from each country) at La Ghirada, their basketball facilities an hour north of Venice. The national basketball federations of each country will choose 10 participants in cooperation with the International Basketball Federation (FIBA). The participants will be selected based on their basketball skills and leadership abilities. The young players will be outfitted by Champion with footwear provided by Nike.

"I'm happy to go back to Italy, where I have a lot of great memories from my playing days," said Kukoc, who played professionally for Benetton Treviso. "I'm looking forward to assisting my fellow NBA players teach the game of basketball to a new generation of kids, in addition to educating them on the dangers of drug abuse."

"Benetton and blu are proud to sponsor this important event," said Benetton CEO Gilberto Benetton, who recognized the support of blu an Italian mobile phone service. "We are proud to work together with the UN and the NBA and nothing could be more important than this basketball camp where there are no differences or boundaries. The common bond is basketball."

"FIBA is delighted to be involved in this excellent project. It is a beautiful idea to bring together children with their idols, especially as it is an ideal way of teaching the importance of saying "no" to drugs, and also, in this case, that national boundaries can be irrelevant in the world of basketball and of sports," said Borislav Stankovič, FIBA Secretary General.

Other NBA players participating in the camp include: Zan Tabak (Croatia) and Bruno Sundov (Croatia) of the Indiana Pacers; Peja Stojakovic (Federal Republic of Yugoslavia) of the Sacramento Kings; Alex Radojevic (Federal Republic of Yugoslavia) of the Denver Nuggets; Rasho Nesterovic (Slovenia) of the Minnesota Timberwolves; Dalibor Bagaric (Croatia) and Dragan Tarlac (Federal Republic of Yugoslavia) of the Chicago Bulls. LA Clippers assistant coach Igor Kokoskov (Federal Republic of Yugoslavia), European basketball players Vrbica Stefanov (the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) and Nenad Markovic (Bosnia and Herzegovina) also will help conduct the camp.

For more information, please contact:

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