This article originally appeared on VICE Sports Canada.Despite the nuanced yet complex differences between the countries that made up former Yugoslavia, a deep love for basketball remains throughout the fragmented territory. Highlighted by the silver medal Serbia won at the 2016 Summer Olympics, and a crop of young NBA talent from Serbian star player Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets to Croatia's Dario Saric (76ers)—who are both competing in the 2017 Rising Stars Challenge at the All-Star Game—basketball is alive and well in the Balkans. The region remains a fertile breeding ground for future NBA stars building on the legacy of players like Vlade Divac, Dražen Petrović, and Toni Kukoč.
I spent the summer of 2016 playing pick up ball and visiting courts ranging from the small towns in Bosnia to fortresses in Belgrade. Here are a few of the photos I captured and some of the local hoopers I met along the way.
Banja Luka, capital of the Republika Srpska in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina—local hoopers in the Bjelave neighborhood.
Trebinje, Bosnia and Herzegovina—a small town located in the south of country in the Republika Srpska. Serbian Basketball Legend Dejan Bodiroga runs an annual youth camp here.
Courts located at Kalemegdan Park, site of the iconic Belgrade Fortress.
Novi Sad, Serbia—a hoop on a farm on the outskirts of Novi Sad.
Niš, Serbia—courts located outside Crveni Krst concentration camp, where over 10,000 were killed under German occupation.
All photos by Ryan Sidhoo