Before Jerryd Bayless got settled in his new city of Philadelphia, he made one more stop ahead of his move.
Last week the Sixers point guard traveled to Finland for the first Basketball without Borders Europe Camp in the country. The event, held at the Kisakallio Sports Institute in Lohja, was organized by the NBA, FIBA and FBA (Finnish Basketball Association). The camp was designed for the top male players born in 1999, which included 41 athletes from 22 European countries.
“We work with kids and we also do social outreach,” Bayless told CSNPhilly.com in a telephone interview. “You do some community service, you get to spend time with the people in the country. To be able to learn their culture, it’s a great part of it.”
Bayless was joined by a group of current and former NBA players comprised of Spencer Hawes and Andre Miller (both ex-Sixers), Cole Aldrich, Beno Udrih, Vladimir Radmanovic and Ronny Turiaf. The first Finnish NBA player, FBA coach Hanno Möttölä, also participated.
The coaching staff featured Lionel Hollins, Jamahl Mosley, Ryan Saunders and Joe Wolf. Sixers international scout Marin Sedlacek served as one of the camp directors.
Basketball without Borders camps began in 2001. Over the years, 43 campers have gone on to be drafted in the NBA. Last season 21 former participants were on opening night rosters. The program can have a long-lasting impact, and Bayless wanted to make sure this camp in Finland left the aspiring athletes with positive impressions.
“The biggest thing for me is putting the kids in a position to have a good time,” Bayless said. “They’re still young enough to where [it] still should be just about playing the game … The message I try to deliver to them is, ‘Have fun playing and enjoy it every day. It still should be a lot of fun for you.’”
Bayless previously spent time in South Africa for Basketball without Borders. He encourages other NBA players to get involved.
“I think it’s important to open your horizons,” he said. “When you go overseas and you see these different places, it opens your eyes to the world and all these different cultures.”
This summer Sixers assistant coach Lloyd Pierce was on the staff for the first Basketball without Borders Africa Camp in Angola.