The Azerbaijan State News Agency


President Ilham Aliyev attended opening of Defense Ministry’s military unit VIDEO

Mingachevir, June 25, AZERTAC

President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces Ilham Aliyev has attended the opening of a military unit of the Ministry of Defense.

First Deputy Defense Minister, Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces, Colonel General Najmaddin Sadikov and Deputy Minister of Defense - Commander of the Air Forces Lieutenant-General Ramiz Tahirov reported to President, Commander-in-Chief Ilham Aliyev.

President of Azerbaijan, Commander-in-Chief Ilham Aliyev then held an operational meeting with senior officials of the Defense Ministry.

The head of state was informed about the military hardware that had just been incorporated into the air defense system.

President Ilham Aliyev viewed the conditions created in the staff building.

It was noted that in order to improve combat training on the territory of the military unit, training sites had been created and the premises were fully landscaped.

After familiarizing himself with the military unit, President Ilham Aliyev met with servicemen.

The head of state made a speech at the meeting.

Speech of President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev

- I want to congratulate you and all our army servicemen on the upcoming Day of the Armed Forces. I wish the Armed Forces of Azerbaijan continued success and new victories. On the eve of the holiday, we are celebrating the opening of a new military unit. I have reviewed the situation and have been informed about the situation before. Of course, the new military unit meets all high standards.

Azerbaijani standards that deserve the highest praise have been applied to army building in our country in recent years, in particular, the construction of military units. There are quite a lot of innovations. All the opportunities have been created for a high-level military service. There are even air conditioners in the barracks, which testifies to a major shift in this area. On my instructions, all our military units, settlements and bases are being actually rebuilt. According to the latest data, repair, restoration and reconstruction work has been completed in 90 percent of the military units. I believe that in one and a half to two years at the latest, the rest of the military units will also be brought to this condition because the conditions of service of our soldiers and officers increase their combat effectiveness and enable them to complete any task. In addition, this is another manifestation of the attention the state of Azerbaijan is paying to its army. Army building is a priority for us. And this is only natural because we are at war, and this being the case, all issues related to the army are of top priority.

I must also note that, along with improving the conditions of service for personnel, the day-to-day problems of officers are also being resolved. On my instruction, officers with an impeccable service record of 20 years are provided with apartments by the state, and this program is being implemented. Of course, this requires major funds, and we are allocating them. To date, 1,700 officers have been covered by this program and have received good apartments. I have recently signed an order to provide apartments to another 419 officers before the end of the year. Thus, as of today, the maximum number of officers are covered by this program. According to the latest information available to me, a little more than 200 officers are still in the queue. Their housing problems will also be resolved. I believe that this picture is rarely observed elsewhere in the world. Azerbaijan is a frontrunner here and is showing innovation, because the servicemen faithfully and impeccably serving the homeland must be provided by the state at a high level. The housing problem is a very important issue for everyone, and we are solving it. Our attention to the army is not limited to this. The salaries of servicemen are regularly increased. In particular, I can say that the most distinguished military personnel are rewarded. And this is natural.

The successful development of our army in recent years is obvious. The people of Azerbaijan know and see this. This is also acknowledged by influential international institutions which make up the ratings of the armies of the world. Today, the Azerbaijani army is among top 50 strongest armies in the world. We achieved this as a result of tireless activity. Army construction is in the first place in my activity as president.

Of course, all other issues must also be resolved. Today, Azerbaijan is a country that relies on its own strength and does not depend on anyone. However, we are at war and see that the factor of force comes to the fore in the world, on the international plane. The principles of international law are being flagrantly violated and flouted. Unfortunately, the “might is right” principle prevails in international relations these days. We see and observe this and must take our steps in accordance with this, because we need to reckon with the real situation. Violation of international law should prompt any country to strengthen its military capabilities, and we have already embarked on this process. It is as a result of this that the Azerbaijani army is highly professional now. At the same time, according to my instructions, the provision of our army with weaponry, ammunition and hardware has been organized in recent years. Billions of dollars have been spent on this. Today, the Azerbaijani army is among the most powerful armies in terms of technical provision. Our armored vehicles meet the highest standards. Our air defense system has been modernized, and this military unit is responsible precisely for that. We have acquired the most advanced air defense installations in several countries. Their integration with each other in Azerbaijan - in our geography - is no easy either. After all, our air defense systems - this is no secret, this information has already been disclosed - were produced in Russia, Belarus and Israel. At the same time, the installations left over from the Soviet era have also been upgraded. We need to integrate them into each other. We need to place them so that all our strategic sites are protected from the air. Of course, this requires high professionalism and resources. If we didn’t have the resources, where would we get them? What country would have given us something for free? There is no such country and never has been, in the military sphere as well. We have purchased everything at our own expense. If we had not created a strong economy and had not implemented the giant oil and gas projects, then where would we get these funds? All these issues are interconnected.

Modern air defense installations allow us the opportunity to protect our country, including strategic facilities. The matters reported to me at the meeting today, including those related to the situation in the frontline area, show again that Azerbaijan has a strategic advantage. Therefore, provision of our army with modern weaponry, ammunition and equipment will be continued in the future. At the same time, our combat aircraft have been modernized. We have more than a hundred military and transport helicopter gunships. This is also our great potential. Unmanned aerial vehicles are made by the best manufacturers. This production has also been established in Azerbaijan.

As for local production, I can say that under the auspices of the Ministry of Defense Industry, which was established on my order 15 years ago, more than 1,300 military products are being manufactured now. We had never had a defense industry before. If we had not created it, we could face major problems today. Not only do we provide ourselves with many types of military products today, but we also export them, and the geography of our exports has expanded. We export military products to dozens of countries. Fifteen years ago, it would be impossible even to think about it. No-one would have believed that. But it is a reality today. We are creating reality with our own hands, with our own strength and determination.

Therefore, all this - care of the army, officers and soldiers, their day-to-day concerns, improving the conditions of service and provision of our army with weaponry, ammunition and equipment, and, of course, increasing our combat readiness - these are the key factors. Of course, there is patriotism as well. Therefore, each military unit should organize ideological education at a high level. The entire management is responsible for ensuring that our youth is raised in the national and patriotic spirit and knows the cost of independence. Young people should know that it was not easy to gain independence, that the protection and strengthening of independence require great skill from many countries these days. It would be enough to look at the world map and see that there are countries that are actually not independent. Why? Because they cannot pursue an independent policy and are under the influence of other countries. We have seen so many countries lately that cannot protect themselves, that actually fall apart, are destroyed, their people die and the entire infrastructure is devastated. Why? Because they could not protect themselves. Protection requires strength, strong will and faith.

Therefore, I am instructing you: all military units should attach special importance to the ideological situation. Every soldier and officer should have a complete picture of the history of our country, both ancient and modern. I have repeatedly said that, unfortunately, we did not know our real history. We are not to blame for this, because we learned it this way. We were taught this way. In Soviet times, most of the history lessons were falsifications. The enemies of the Azerbaijani people were portrayed as heroes. A gang of 26 Baku commissars was portrayed as heroes. The criminal Armenian nationalists who led this gang were portrayed as heroes. Their names were assigned to the districts and monuments were erected to them. There was a monument to executioner of the Azerbaijani people Shaumyan, his name was perpetuated. We saw this history. But it wasn’t our fault. Such was the history of Soviet power. Those who built independence were portrayed as enemies. The Azerbaijan Democratic Republic was presented as an anti-national entity, while the criminals who robbed us of our independence, local traitors were considered heroes. Their names were awarded to streets, monuments and statues were erected to them. Some may not remember that there was a memorial for 26 Baku commissars in the Sahil Park. I thought - what is this? They shed the blood of the Azerbaijani people, killed us. Is it possible to have such a memorial in the city center? This monument and the monuments to members of the bandit detachment were knocked down, and I did the right thing. Their graves were moved out in accordance with all religious customs. But it was unacceptable to have a monument to the enemies of the Azerbaijani people in the center of our city.

Therefore, I am saying that our youth should know this history, our ancient history. They should know that the present-day Armenia was established on Azerbaijani lands. They should know the real names of place names on the map of the present-day Armenia. I come across changed Armenian names on some maps. I make comments to all local executive bodies: if you do not know this, at lease ask. Think about what you are writing because it has an ancient Azerbaijani name. This is our land. Therefore, we must pay special attention to this area. Every young man who has served in the army should know this history as it is after being demobilized.

Of course, the key thing is fighting efficiency. All the other factors I have mentioned serve to increase combat efficiency. Necessary steps are also being taken in this direction. This is evidenced by military operations in both 2016 and 2018. We managed to free a large territory from the invaders. In 2016, we liberated parts of the Fuzuli, Jabrayil and Aghdara districts from the enemy and raised the Azerbaijani flag on these lands. We entered the trenches dug by the Armenians in the occupied lands. Currently, we are entrenched there. As a result of a successful Nakhchivan operation, we liberated a territory of more than 10,000 hectares from the invaders and reached strategic heights. The road leading from Armenia to Nagorno-Karabakh passes right before our eyes. Therefore, it is necessary to take additional steps aimed at increasing combat efficiency so that we are ready to restore our territorial integrity at any time. Our territorial integrity must and will be restored. No-one should have any doubts about that. We simply have to become even stronger. We must always monitor the geopolitical situation, correctly analyze the changing situation on the international plane and make more friends in the international arena. And we are doing exactly that. The number of countries in the international arena that are friends with Azerbaijan is increasing with every day.

The Armenians are pursuing a policy of illegal settlement of occupied lands today. I have already expressed my thoughts on this issue several times, including my speeches at international events. I drew attention to this issue within the framework of the last Eastern Partnership Summit of the European Union. We raise and will continue to raise this issue in all international organizations. Illegal settlement must be stopped. We call on the international community over this. We want the Minsk Group co-chairs to pay special attention to this issue so that illegal settlement is stopped because Armenia’s policy lies precisely in this. They have renamed our cities first in the territory of the present-day Armenia and now in Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding districts. They have established “boundaries” there, destroyed our historical past, mosques, and are now trying to Armenianize our historical monuments and lands. They currently want to conduct illegal settlement, but are experiencing difficulties due to a lack of human resources. And yet they strive for this as a result of the activities of the diaspora. Let everyone know - we will not allow this. Our position related to the conflict remains firm and we will not back down a single step. International organizations are emphasizing the principle of territorial integrity now. Many of the speakers at the last Eastern Partnership Summit of the European Union, world leaders clarified this issue. The principle of territorial integrity prevails over the principle of self-determination of peoples. Let-no one doubt that. As for Armenia and the Nagorno-Karabakh issue as a whole, the principle of self-determination does not apply because the Armenian people have already determined themselves, they have an Armenian state, albeit created on Azerbaijani soil. We cannot allow for the creation of a second Armenian state on Azerbaijani soil. However, I want to say again that the principle of territorial integrity prevails today. Therefore, from the point of view of international law and historical justice, our position is perfect. Of course, the conflict must be resolved on the basis of these principles. But, as I have already said, the force factor in the world is coming to the fore, and we must accumulate strength and resolve the issue in any way.

Of course, this conflict is the bitter legacy of the government of the Popular Front of Azerbaijan. It was because of their treacherous activity that our lands were occupied. Everyone should know this. The occupation of Shusha was a great tragedy. At that time, there was a struggle for power in Azerbaijan. The Popular Front of Azerbaijan tried to come to power by any means. In order to remove the previous government, they resorted to the most dirty and most treacherous actions - they surrendered Shusha to the Armenians. Servicemen are well aware that Shusha is an impregnable fortress. It is impossible to capture it. They surrendered it, sold it in order to topple the government and come to power themselves. Unfortunately, this is what happened. In May 1992, Shusha and Lachin were occupied and units of the Popular Front illegally came to power. What did they do after that? They began to ruin our country. The occupied lands remained on the sidelines, while they were engaged in robbery, bribery, theft, cut and sold cables. Robbery was pervasive. As a result, on the one hand, the people did not tolerate this and, on the other, in April 1993, Armenia occupied Kalbajar. This treacherous government of the Popular Front of Azerbaijan, which came to power illegally, surrendered Kalbajar to Armenia, after which a geographical link appeared between Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh. This paved the way for visits, deliveries of weaponry, ammunition and equipment. What did they do after that? Instead of defending the lands, they shed fraternal blood, unleashed a civil war and bombed Ganja. They took Azerbaijani soldiers prisoner. Lands were being lost there, while they were fighting for power here. As a result, our lands were occupied. If Heydar Aliyev had not come to power, no-one knows how far Armenia could have gone.

Therefore, everyone should know this history. This occupation is the result of treacherous actions of the Popular Front of Azerbaijan. The people could not stand them and they fled. How else can you call it? Only desertion. The President deserted by fleeing to Kalaki. Well, you are the Commander-in-Chief, the country is at war. You must protect the people, the state and statehood. Instead, he secretly flew to Nakhchivan under the cover of dark and then ended up in Kalaki. How can you describe this? I want to appeal to those who are trying to justify this now. What name can you put on this? Cowardice, betrayal and desertion. There is no other name. And everyone should know this. What did others do? The then Secretary of State calls himself the alleged opposition today. But the Azerbaijani people are well aware what kind of opposition this is. All our citizens can see on the Internet today what their upbringing, culture and actions are.

I have already said this: the worse things are in Azerbaijan, the better for them. Notice what makes them happy. They are pleased that the oil price has fallen to $14. Who is happy about this? Armenia and this anti-national council which calls itself the opposition. After all, if the oil price drops to $14, then people will suffer, problems will arise, problems may arise in the social sphere, our economy will slow down. But this plays into their hands. The worse things are in Azerbaijan, the better for them. They lived by this principle back then as well. This is why they surrendered our lands. The secretary of state defected along with the president at the time. He also went into hiding in Käläki. The speaker of parliament deserted. They are deserters and national traitors. Everyone should know this, no-one should forget this.

In the current circumstances, we must build up our forces, and we are doing that. Armenia has been in a deep crisis for several years. I can say that the history of Armenia’s independence is largely a story of disgrace, because the incumbent government has repeatedly stated and proved that the people who led Armenia from 1998 to 2018 are criminals, thieves and bandits. Many of them have been arrested. It became known that their generals are thieves who steal a soldier's stew and sell it in the markets. Their heroes are criminals and their presidents are bribe-takers. The current government has revealed all this. We knew this anyway, but now the whole world knows it too. In other words, it turns out that for 20 years this “independent” country was led by bandits, bribe takers and criminals. What can this country be called? It has supposedly been independently for less than 30, and if bandits led it for 20 years, then how can we call it - a bandit country, a criminal country. Notice what happened after 2018. A democratic revolution allegedly occurred there. All this is a lie. We know where the money came from and the Armenian people probably know this as well. Everyone knows what foreign circles govern the current government. Just take a look at the biography of current leaders, look what foundations they had worked for and where they received money. The organizers of these “revolutions”, or actually bloody coups in post-Soviet republics, are the patrons of Armenian leaders today. They ruled them and, of course, the people hated that dirty regime of criminal junta. Taking advantage of that, they seized power. What happened after that? There is currently a dictatorship in Armenia. This is an inevitable fact. One of the journalists who was under arrest about a year ago went on a hunger strike and died. Not a single international organization, the Council of Europe or the OSCE press service issued a single statement. Why? Because they know who the current leaders of Armenia are.

What do the latest events show? Political opponents are persecuted and arrested, unlawful amendments are made to the constitution even though such changes can only be made in a referendum. They saw that the referendum didn’t work, so they made changes to the parliament. This means that the division of powers has been completely disrupted. The legislative branch, the executive branch and the judicial sphere are already in the hands of one person, are an instrument, and this dictatorship is being further reinforced. At the same time, corruption, theft, bribery and nepotism have become widespread in Armenia. All this is popping up now. It turns out that the prime minister himself and his family are engaged in smuggling. Cigarette smuggling is led by the prime minister, his family and next of kin. Then criminal cases are instituted against wealthy businessmen and they are forced to transfer money into the fund they have created. The money from this fund is subsequently embezzled. So the prime minister of Armenia and his close relatives have turned into a symbol of bribery. Notice what their financial capabilities were two years ago and what they are now. Therefore, there is dictatorship in Armenia, and the longer it continues, the earlier their problems will reach a critical point. In principle, if you conduct an objective analysis, you can see that there are no development prospects there because the country cannot support itself and protect its borders. Their borders are guarded by soldiers and officers of foreign countries. It cannot provide for its military strength - a foreign state has a military base there. It cannot acquire weapons - a foreign state provides them with weapons and ammunition free of charge. It cannot properly build its economy and lives off loans by begging. It is currently begging the European Union for $90 million, begging here and there. It is experiencing a demographic crisis, people are leaving this country and natural depopulation occurs. Today, the real population of Armenia is less than 2 million people. I know this, and so does the leadership of Armenia. At the same time, the country puts forward territorial claims against its neighbors - in fact, against such a large state as Turkey. It raises unfounded claims of “genocide” against Turkey. There was no genocide. The Armenians committed genocide against us in 1918 and in Khojaly. Therefore, the future of a country that lives by such claims remains very bleak.

But we are becoming and should become stronger in all areas, on the international plane - stability in the country, reforms in the economic sphere, solution of social problems, development of the regions and, finally, army building. Therefore, we will follow this path and continue to strengthen our army and allocate as much funds to it as necessary. Whether the oil price drops to $14 - I want to recall the occurrence that caused the joy of the Popular Front - or rises back, it doesn’t matter. Our economy is stable, and we will continue to do whatever is necessary for our army.

I want to congratulate the entire personnel of the Armed Forces of Azerbaijan on this wonderful holiday again. I wish you continued success and new victories. Thank you!

Share news on social media

Follow us on social network


President Ilham Aliyev attended opening of Defense Ministry’s military unit VIDEO

Shusha-hosted Global Media Forum features panel session on impact of artificial intelligence on reality, media and disinformation

Oil prices rise in global markets

Biden says will not seek reelection as US president

West preparing for direct military conflict with Russia — Vucic

Second Shusha Global Media Forum discusses ways of building more resilient societies against disinformation

Global Media Forum participants tour Shusha

President Ilham Aliyev shares post on National Press Day

Executive Committee of the Turkish News Agencies Alliance holds its 1st meeting in Shusha

Second Shusha Global Media Forum discusses mapping the reach of disinformation

Problem of fake news manifests itself in the easiest and fastest forms thanks to technological development

Vugar Aliyev: ATNA should play the role of an institution where news of the Turkic world is collected

Mikhail Gusman: Information warfare is a global phenomenon ındependent of political regimes

Azerbaijan Army positions in Kalbajar direction were subjected to fire

Assistant to the President: Sharing accurate information is crucial for society

Hikmet Hajiyev: We faced a powerful disinformation campaign regarding COP29

Hikmet Hajiyev: Disinformation turned into psychological warfare against the Azerbaijani people VIDEO

Shusha hosted second Global Media Forum
 President Ilham Aliyev attended the Forum VIDEO

President: We always feel brotherly support from Pakistani media

President: We could have waited 17 more years if necessary for liberation of our lands

President of Azerbaijan: We are very actively trying to activate our cooperation with members of African Union

President Ilham Aliyev: Our target is to double supply of Azerbaijani gas to Europe

President of Azerbaijan: For the sake of peace and the liberation of our territories, I had to set aside all my feelings and all my emotions

President Ilham Aliyev: I hope that after elections there will be more understanding in Washington and Europe about Azerbaijan

Reception was held in honor of participants of second Shusha Global Media Forum

Azerbaijani army personnel involved in “Birlestik-2024” exercise return to motherland, Defense Ministry

Azerbaijan Chess Federation and FIDE discuss future prospects of cooperation

President of Azerbaijan: All the leaders in UK were asking about Armenia and the peace treaty

Azerbaijani President: Our relations with the United States were pretty stable

President Ilham Aliyev: Prime Minister Pashinyan refused to meet with me in the U.K.

President of Azerbaijan: There is a progress in process of normalization of relations with Armenia VIDEO

President Ilham Aliyev: We now actively work with developing countries in order to build bridges between Global South and Global North

President of Azerbaijan: Our COP Team is working very efficiently

Arab News: In run-up to major event, COP29, host nation Azerbaijan has been working hard to achieve its green development goals

President of Azerbaijan: Some countries still suffer from colonialism, and we want to help them

President: Strong ties in the region allowed us to overcome most of our economic problems

President Ilham Aliyev: We will never forget the occupation, the victims, or our great Victory

Study shows promise for a universal influenza vaccine

President: We would prefer coverage of events in our country and in neighborhood to be objective

President of Azerbaijan: There are simply no issues that need to be resolved in bilateral relations with Russia

Baku to host Uzbek Cinema Days

President Ilham Aliyev: False information, disinformation, manipulation of facts, and false narratives are all things we have faced for many years VIDEO

Azerbaijani powerlifter earns Paralympic berth

President Ilham Aliyev: We are now facing a historical transformation in the Southern Caucasus

North China bridge collapse kills 11, leaves over 30 missing

Participants of 2nd Shusha Global Media Forum arrive in Azerbaijan's cultural capital

Turkish parliament passes resolution regarding 50th anniversary of Cyprus Peace Operation

Türkiye's President Erdogan arrives in Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus

Despite curfew, deaths mount in Bangladesh student protests over government jobs quota

Participants of 2nd Shusha Global Media Forum arrive in Fuzuli

Turkish arctic expedition seeks crucial insights into climate change

Azerbaijani oil price down in global markets

Remains of medieval palace where popes lived possibly found in Rome

National Defense University holds graduation ceremony of basic English language course

Landmine explosion injures civilians in Azerbaijan’s Kalbajar district

Oil prices down in world markets

® Semi-final round of public speaking contest comes to an end

COP29 Academy officially inaugurated

Shusha to host 2nd Global Media Forum on fight against disinformation on July 20-22

UN Climate Change Executive Secretary: COP29 gives us great hope

Azerbaijani wrestlers to compete for Timisoara Beach Wrestling World Series glory

Nigar Arpadarai: We are striving to ensure that all partners contribute to COP29

Mukhtar Babayev: As COP29 Presidency, we have put forward initiatives that will incorporate regional action

Mazahir Panahov: Central Election Commission registered candidacies of 806 persons for parliamentary seats

Azerbaijani judokas at Paris 2024 Paralympics: List of qualified Para judokas

Azerbaijan to host “LAW & CLIMATE” international conference ahead of COP29

Azerbaijan’s Central Election Commission registers authorized representatives from five more political parties

COP29 Azerbaijan Operating Company hosts meeting with local SME representatives to launch COP29 partnership programme

Mass IT outage affects airlines, hospitals, media and banks

Baku hosts event dedicated to 149th anniversary of National Press

Azerbaijani chess player takes lead at Serbia Open 2024

President Ilham Aliyev’s speech at 4th summit of European Political Community in spotlight of Georgian media

AC Milan sign Spanish striker Alvaro Morata from Atletico de Madrid

The Nation: Azerbaijan to beautify multiple places in Islamabad

China launches new Earth observation satellite VIDEO

World’s largest uncontacted indigenous tribe spotted evading loggers in Peruvian Amazon

Australia hit by ‘large-scale technical outage’

Azerbaijan, Saudi Arabia explore demining cooperation

Denmark coach Kasper Hjulmand resigns after EURO 2024 exit

Western Azerbaijan Community: France's arms sale to Armenia serves to push this country to a new war against Azerbaijan

Chinese lab uses AI to provide better weather forecasts

Azerbaijani badminton players to compete at EUG2024

Türkiye signs deal for oil and gas exploration in Somalian offshore

Military Police Department holds seminar, Defense Ministry

Suez Canal revenue drops as some shippers shun Red Sea

Oil prices down in world markets

Scientists find out why dance therapy works for those with neurological disorders

Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry: Macron's bias against Azerbaijan creates tension in the region

Azerbaijan, Switzerland discuss prospects for educational cooperation

Azerbaijani oil price rises in global markets

Trump formally accepts nomination as Republican presidential candidate

Chamber of Commerce and Industry: Bulgaria Advances in Energy Transition and Prosperity Rankings

President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev met with Chancellor of Germany Olaf Scholz in Oxford VIDEO

Azerbaijani karate fighter triumphs at EUG2024

President Ilham Aliyev: We supply our oil to very sensitive destinations which are largely dependent on Azerbaijani crude

® Buy a smartphone from Bakcell with an exclusive offer

President Ilham Aliyev attended official reception held in honor of summit participants in Oxford VIDEO

President: There will be more opportunities for Azerbaijani gas to supply more European countries

President Ilham Aliyev: The strategic partnership aims to double our gas supply to Europe

Juventus say France's Adrien Rabiot won't continue at club

Azerbaijan, Montenegro sign MoU on development of basketball