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Remembering Patrick Baumann

MIES (Switzerland) -  One year ago the FIBA family suddenly lost a beloved member, Secretary General Patrick Baumann. To remember Patrick and all that he did for FIBA and the world of basketball we are publishing a tribute that was recently written for the FIBA Activity Report for 2017 - 2019, published for the XXI FIBA Congress in August.   

The memory of 2018 will always carry some sadness for FIBA due to the sudden and unexpected death of long-time Secretary General, Patrick Baumann. A true visionary and leader whose expertise was greatly valued by many organizations, including the International Olympic Committee that he was a member of since 2007, Baumann died of a heart attack in October while attending the Youth Olympic Games in Argentina.

Patrick Baumann was 51. Born in Basel, Baumann grew to love basketball at a young age and even played while obtaining his maturità classica in Sanremo, Italy. His impressive educational background included an MBA from the Business School of the University of Chicago, a Masters in Sports Administration Management (MEMOS) from the University of Lyon in France and a law degree from the University of Lausanne. Baumann played basketball and also coached and refereed. His love of both education and basketball made him a natural fit for FIBA, where his supreme level of direction and guidance for the sport helped take it to new heights. He was appointed in 2002 as the third FIBA Secretary General, after Dr. William Jones and Borislav Stankovic, and officially started his term of office in 2003.

"Under his leadership," said FIBA President from 2014 to 2019, Horacio Muratore, who worked closely with Baumann, "FIBA moved forward by leaps and bounds, with the organization modernizing itself to the extent of becoming a model which fellow International Federations followed. Patrick was at the forefront of FIBA making radical changes to its governance structure, successfully building and moving into its own state-of-the-art headquarters outside of Geneva as well as launching 3x3, its urban discipline which became a part of basketball’s program at the Olympics.

"He was also instrumental in the process of 'ONE FIBA', the coming together of all of FIBA's Regional Offices into one corporate group, with everyone looking and heading in the same direction for the best interests of our beloved sport. Last but not least, he led the way in the creation and implementation of FIBA's New Competition System.

"For all of this and for so much more, FIBA is forever indebted to Patrick. Without doubt we would not be where we are today were it not for everything that he did. His unwavering commitment, tireless work ethic and pure passion for basketball mean he will forever have his place in FIBA’s history."

Baumann was a tireless worker for the IOC, serving as a member of its Evaluation Commissions for the Olympic Games 2008 and 2020. He was a member of the Coordination Commission for the Olympic Games 2012, chairman of the Evaluation Commission and Vice-Chairman of the Coordination Commission for the Olympic Games 2024. He was also appointed Chairman of the Coordination Commission for the Olympic Games 2028 and was a member of various other IOC Commissions.

While Baumann was best known for his association with FIBA and the International Olympic Committee, he had prominent roles with many other organizations. He was appointed to the International Advisory Board of the World Academy of Sport in 2009. He was a member of the International Council of Arbitration for Sport (ICAS) since 2010 and was elected as a Council member of the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF) in 2011 and re-elected in 2015. Baumann was also serving as a member of the Executive Committee and the Foundation Board of the World Anti- Doping Agency (WADA).

He spoke passionately about national teams being the engine of all sports, including in his last public remarks at the FIBA World Basketball Summit in Xi'an, China.

"When you want to see a game, a sport, growing, the driving force is when the name of the country is written here [he moved his hand across his chest] in any sport,” Baumann said. “Basketball is no different. The national team is the driving force. Of course, you don’t have a national team without many things behind it, but it is the driving force. It talks to the core fans, but it also talks to the people that usually may not follow basketball on a day-to-day basis. It grows the base of those that love basketball and it follows you if your national team is successful."

Leading basketball personalities, players and athletes, clubs and organizations paid tribute to Baumann on social media. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said: "Nobody was more dedicated to the growth of basketball than Patrick. He loved the game and recognized its power to transform people’s lives. He was also a dear friend and colleague."

Among the players, was Pau Gasol, the 2006 FIBA Basketball World Cup MVP of Spain, who tweeted: "Basketball and sports, in general, have lost an advocate and a leader that worked tirelessly at @FIBA and the @IOC, and his wife and kids have lost a father and a husband way too soon. RIP Patrick Baumann."

Baumann's final remarks at the World Basketball Summit were fitting and will certainly never be forgotten by anyone involved in the sport. "There is one piece that is very much in my heart," he said. "We are and will always be a team sport. Team means we do it together. Whether we are from different sides of the world. Whether we are from a club, from a league, from a federation, or from whatever side of the game we are, it's about teamwork. Basketball is a team sport and, as such, the values that a team sport brings, they are irreplaceable for us, for our lives. And the rest are details."

FIBA's headquarters in Mies, the House of Basketball, was renamed in honor of Patrick Baumann, who served as the Secretary General of basketball's world governing body from 2002 until October of 2018. It will be the "Patrick Baumann House of Basketball" forever.