BORISLAV STANKOVIC - BORA
Bora Stankovic was born on July 9, 1925, in Bihac, where he lived until he was three, when the family moved to Novi Sad. His father Vasilije was a law clerk in Bihac, whereas his mother Bjanka studied in Zagreb. They lived in Novi Sad until April 1941, when they were forced to leave the then occupied Vojvodina. Fleeing from the war tribulations, the Stankovic family temporarily settled in Ledince (Srem), finding the final refuge, running away from the Ustasha invasion, in Belgrade. As a boy, Bora became interested in sports. As a 15-year-old, he played tennis and table tennis, with considerable success (he was Serbian table-tennis champion in 1943 and 1946).
He made his first basketball steps after the war, on the BTK-a courts, the then Tasmajdan. He often played basketball there with Srdjan Mrkusic, later a well-known Red Star goalkeeper. Although Stankovic’s falling for basketball started in Tasmajdan, he says that the cradle of Yugoslav basketball was Kalemegdan. Here is where the idea came to make a basketball court out of an abandoned tennis court. Following long discussions with urban planners, employing a lot of energy, effort and vision, this idea was realized and Yugoslavia received its first basketball stadium.
Stankovic was persuaded to start playing basketball by a doctor Svetislav Bata Vulovic, a man who brought first basketball game ball to Belgrade, setting the foundation to a large sports idea, which would gather millions of fans in our country, the idea that would present Yugoslavia in the most beautiful sports light to the European and world public.
After demobilization, Stankovic attended the founding assembly of the sports society “Crvena Zvezda” (Red Star), which was held on March 4, 1945. In July of the same year, urged by Nebojsa Popovic, Bora started his playing career in Red Star, with which he would win three state championship titles. He left Red Star in 1948 (due to political pressure) for Basketball Club Zeleznicar, as a coach. Guided by Bora, this team soon entered the first league. In 1950, Stankovic continued his playing career, this time in the “rival’s team” of Basketball Club Partizan, where he played for two seasons.
The first international game Stankovic played in Red Star’s jersey was in Budapest against Hungarian Postas in 1948. His debut for national team was in 1950 in Nice, after which, in October of the same year, he became a member of the national team which played at the first Basketball World Championship in Buenos Aires. In 1953, Bora was a member of the Yugoslav national team when this one recorded first significant international success, finishing sixth, defeating then very strong Italy and Czech Republic. That 1953, Stankovic finished his career as a player and started his career as coach in BSK, the then name for OKK Belgrade. The years spent in OKK present the most fruitful period in the Bora Stankovic’s career as a coach.
PERIOD IN OKK BELGRADE:
Bora Stankovic spent 13 years in BSK, that is, OKK Belgrade, in the period 1953-1962 and 1964-1966. “Under his baton”, OKK Belgrade rose from a small club, which participated in the regional leagues, to a multiple national champion, team of European significance. With OKK Belgrade, Bora was three times Yugoslav champion, namely, in: 1958, 1960 and 1964 (in 1963, ОКК was a champion with Professor Aca Nikolic as a coach). Working in this club, Stankovic selected and created championship winning generation, headed by Radivoje Korac, generation whose successes surprised all basketball fans in Yugoslavia, and completely blurred the minds of some large clubs. Stankovic talks about his “klonfers” and work in this club, with the sheer satisfaction and excitement,
“ Korac appeared in OKK Belgrade and immediately became the team leader. Sija Nikolic, Erkic, Trajko Rajkovic, Gordic managed to win championship title very fast. Our main opponent was Olimpija from Ljubljana. We exchanged at the leader’s position for eight years”. After OKK Belgrade, in which he spent his most successful years as a coach, Stankovic continued his career in Italian “Oransoda”, with which he won the title of the Italian champion, becoming in that way the first foreign coach who managed to win the national championship in the Apennine Peninsula.
Bora Stankovic has always been a very versatile man. His working day, during his post as a coach in OKK Beograd, had three parts. In the morning, he worked in Belgrade slaughterhouse, as a meat and foodstuff controller, from where he would rush to the Union, where, between 1956 and 1966, he worked as a secretary general of the Yugoslav Basketball Federation. He would finish his day in the late evening hours with a training with OKK Beograd players. All this confirms that when it comes to Bora Stankovic, we talk about a man of exceptional active energy, capable of being engaged in several positions simultaneously, recording excellent results in all of them. Precisely that fact is the basis and the reason for Stankovic’s outstanding international success.
The first recognition and the beginning of rerouting of the European career is Stankovic’s election to the European Cup Commission in 1958. In this basketball body, which even today has strong influence on the European basketball, he became an assistant to William Jones, founder of the International Basketball Federation (in Geneva, 1932). Stankovic was appointed Jones’ assistant in 1960. Nine years later (after finishing his career as a coach in Italy) Jones invited Stankovic to work in Munich.
Working in Munich as a professional, Stankovic was engaged in the most complex and most responsible tasks (basketball tournament at Olympic Games in Mexico City, Munich and Montreal, World Championships for Women in 1971 and 1975, as well as several European Championships). As a confirmation of his high-quality work, in 1972, Stankovic became Deputy Secretary General of FIBA. In 1976, the year of the Olympics in Montreal, following a great success of the Yugoslav national team against Italy, when Slavnic’s score in the last second brought victory for Yugoslavia after it was 16 points behind in the half-time, Stankovic was promoted into the Secretary General of FIBA. The decision on this Stankovic’s appointment was largely influenced by the political position of the then SFRY as a mediator between the East and the West.
On the new duty, Stankovic recorded significant results and achievements. He became the Secretary General of the Association of International Sports Organisations, whose sports are represented in the Olympic Games and within which important decisions are being reached. Stankovic has also employed much energy and effort in convergence of the US and European basketball schools. The first indication of the success in that area was the first open basketball tournament held in Milwaukee in 1987, at which Milwaukee Bucks, Soviet national team and European club champion “Tracer” from Milano took part. Also, the merits for the inclusion of the US professional NBA players in the world and Olympic competitions, go on Stankovic’s account, as he, in cooperation with the NBA Commissioner David Stern, for the first time brought the US professionals to the Olympic Games in Barcelona in 1992.
It is likely that in order to count all Bora Stankovic’s international posts and roles, pages of material would have to be written. Apart from the aforementioned, we will nevertheless emphasise several more most important:
-in 1988, Stankovic became a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) – the organisation in charge of organising and holding of the Olympic Games
-in 1980, member of the management board of the Naismith’s Hall of Fame – organisation, which based on the lifetime achievement of the basketball worker, either as a player or on some other position, grants a recognition by inducting the person in the Hall of Fame (apart from Stankovic, other Yugoslav inductees are Professor Aca Nikolic and Drazen Dalipagic).
ABOUT THE PERSON:
Stankovic’s life proceeds in perfect harmony with basketball. Learning all his life to stay true to himself, making friends, exchanging knowledge and experiences and employing immeasurable effort in all of that, he has gained the trust and confidence among people as well as personal and family happiness. Respect he has for people with ideas has enriched him day after day. The versatility and comprehensiveness of his life’s work have been confirmed by the fact that he speaks six languages: Serbian, Russian, English, French, Italian and Spanish.
Despite all dynamics, imposed by obligations and responsibilities of Stankovic’s positions, he has love for his family, his wife Milica and daughter Ljiljana, who have always provided support, understanding him as a victim of his own inspiration. Today, in addition to his wife and daughter, when he comes home from distant journeys, he is welcomed by his two granddaughters Aleksandra and Ivana, who rejuvenate him and give him endless love. Their grandfather returns with numerous gifts from abroad and a wide smile in several world languages, a smile of a man who has understood the needs of his time and adapted himself to them, not sparing himself, aiming at making the queen of the games better, more attractive, accessible and beautiful.