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Boris Stankovic

Basketball World Mourns the Passing of FIBA Secretary General Emeritius Borislav Stankovic

  • Date:
    Mar 20, 2020

Boris Stankovic, the FIBA secretary general emeritus who led the charge for FIBA to open the Olympics and FIBA World Cup competitions to NBA players, passed away on Friday at the age of 94.

"On behalf of USA Basketball, I want to extend our deepest condolences to Mr. Stankovic’s family and his many friends and colleagues," said Jim Tooley, USA Basketball chief executive officer.  "He helped propel the global popularity of basketball, and was a man who possessed outstanding vision for the sport of basketball.”

Stankovic served as FIBA's second Secretary General from 1976 to 2002 and was a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). He had been FIBA's Secretary General Emeritus since 2003.

"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 FIBA Secretary General Andreas Zagklis.

"Whether as participant to the first-ever World Cup game in 1950, as organizer of the first-ever World Cup taking place in Europe (Yugoslavia, 1970) or as leader of the International Basketball Federation for a quarter of a century, Borislav Stankovic will always be one of the most important figures in the history of our sport. We are eternally grateful to him for all he did in implementing concrete changes without which FIBA would not be where it is today."

Mr. Stankovic was born on July 9, 1925, in the city of Bihac, in former Yugoslavia.

He was involved in sports from an early age, focusing his efforts on tennis and table tennis. He discovered basketball in his teenage years and, once involved in the game, he explored most of its facets. Not surprisingly, he would go on to experience tremendous success.

He studied Veterinary Medicine at the University of Belgrade, with basketball rapidly becoming his number one passion.

As a player, he helped Red Star Belgrade win two national titles (1946 and 1947) and was selected to represent Yugoslavia on 36 occasions, including at the inaugural FIBA Basketball World Cup in 1950 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

As a coach, he led the OKK Belgrade team to four Yugoslavian league titles and the Oransoda team to one Italian league title.

Starting in 1953, Mr. Stankovic embarked on an illustrious career in sports administration that spanned more than seven decades.

A member of the Central Board of the Yugoslavian Basketball Federation (YBF) from 1953, Mr. Stankovic moved up the ranks of national and international sports administration rapidly. In 1960, upon the proposal of FIBA's first Secretary General, Mr. Renato William Jones, he was appointed Vice-Secretary General of FIBA.

Six years later, he became YBF Secretary General and this marked the year when he pledged his efforts to basketball full-time, ending a decade-long career as a veterinary inspector for meat control in Belgrade.

In 1972, he was appointed Deputy Secretary General of FIBA and four years later he succeeded Mr. Jones to become FIBA's second Secretary General, a position he held for 26 years.

During his time at the helm of FIBA, he is credited with countless achievements, the most significant of which were continually working towards building bridges between the East and West during the Cold War and working closely with the former NBA Commissioner David Stern in the late 1980s-early 1990s to bring world basketball into the modern era. This resulted in having, for the first time ever, professional players participate in top-level national team competitions (Olympic Games, FIBA Basketball World Cup), starting at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992.

Asked why he favored opening to FIBA system to NBA players, Stankovic said: "Two reasons. Our competition was closed to the NBA players, but no one else. That seems immoral. The second is very simple. Our feeling is that only by playing with the best players in the world can everyone else make progress. If you are from another country and you can run a race against Carl Lewis, maybe you don't have a chance. But you still want to run." 

For his contributions to the game, he was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts in 199, 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.

Beyond basketball, he sat on and/or chaired numerous IOC and international sporting committees and commissions.

Mr. Stankovic's many efforts and contributions have been recognized with countless awards and merits all over the world.

He is survived by one daughter, two granddaughters and two great grandchildren.

About FIBA
FIBA ( - the world governing body for basketball, is an independent association formed by 213 National Basketball Federations throughout the world. It is recognized as the sole competent authority in basketball by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

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