To watch the epic Magic-Bird duels that took place in the 1980s, Arturas Karnisovas needed to borrow a friend’s VHS player. NBA Finals games didn’t air until the wee hours of the morning in Lithuania, Karnisovas’ native country, so in order to see them, the aspiring professional hooper was forced to beg someone for their VHS player, hook it up inside his home and pop in a now-ancient looking tape.
Back then, developing any sort of connection to the league was difficult if you lived overseas — even if you were one of the most promising prospects in Europe. Nowadays, with the invention of the internet and the league’s efforts to grow the game abroad, it’s become far easier.
This week, Karnisovas, the Nuggets’ general manager, will help out at the NBA’s Basketball Without Borders Europe camp in Belgrade, Serbia. Top male and female players from across Europe will converge in the Balkan country’s capital city for four days starting Wednesday to compete against each other and learn from current and former NBA players.