THE man who paved the way for open basketballpassed away on Friday.
Borislav Stankovic, the FIBA secretary general emeritus, died at the age of 94 at a time when the world is struggling with the outbreak of the coronavirus.
The Yugoslavian had been involved with the international basketball federation since the 1960 as a vice secretary-general, and later on as full-time secretary-general (1976), a position he held for 26 long years.
During that period, Stankovic initiated a move that changed the landscape of world basketball forever.
In 1989 he changed the FIBA rule that allowed NBA players to compete in the Summer Olympics, and later, in the FIBA World Cup, paving the way for the collection of NBA stars later known as the Dream Team to take the 1992 Barcelona Games by storm.
“On behalf of FIBA, I wish to express our deepest sympathies and pass on our heartfelt condolences to Mr. Stankovic’s family, friends, and loved ones,” said current FIBA secretary-general Andreas Zagklis.
The Philippines was among the first to benefit from the rule change as PBA players were finally allowed to play internationally, and in 1990 behind an all-pro team coached by Robert Jaworski, finished runner-up behind China in the Beijing Asian Games.
Stankovic stepped down as FIBA secretary-general in 2002 and was replaced by the late Patrick Baumann.
Beyond basketball, he also held positions in the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and other international sporting committees and commissions.
FIBA later named its annual international basketball cup after him, the FIBA Stankovic Continental Champions Cup.
A former member of the Yugoslavian men’s basketball team in the 1950s, Stankovic also coached professionally for more than a decade before finally working full-time with FIBA when its first secretary general Renato William Jones tapped him to become his deputy.
Stankovic was later inducted in the Basketball Hall of Fame as a contributor in 1991, and was enshrined as a contributor in the FIBA Hall of Fame in 2007.
He was also inducted in the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2000.
Stankovic is survived by one daughter, two granddaughters, and two great grandchildren.