It’s official: two preparatory friendlies for the next NBA season will take place in October 2022 in the United Arab Emirates. These two meetings, for which the exact dates and posters remain to be determined, will mark the NBA’s very first foray into the Arabian Gulf. No preseason games have been played outside of North America since 2019 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Previously, some had been organized in England, France, Mexico, Japan, China and most recently in India.
« As part of this partnership, the DCT Abu Dhabi will be the NBA’s official tourism partner in the Middle East, North Africa, Europe and China.« , reads the press release. Partnership which »will also include a variety of interactive fan events with the presence of current and former league players, the launch of NBA Junior Leagues for Boys and Girls in UAE schools promoting teamwork and inclusion » or an exhibition of the e-sport competition « NBA 2K League« .
Developing basketball around the world
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« Organizing NBA games and events in Abu Dhabi is part of our desire to develop basketball around the world.« said Mark Tatum, deputy commissioner of the instance, who signed this multi-year agreement. The NBA, which is one of the most globalized professional sports leagues, is indeed constantly in search of new territories and playing fields.
Especially since its relations with Beijing have been freezing for two years and the tweet of Daryl Morey, former leader of the Houston Rockets who had shown his support for the protesters in Hong Kong. The economic consequences of this diplomatic incident were great for the NBA. And the ice is far from broken as Turkish Boston player Enes Kanter recently lambasted China on human rights issues, directly attacking Chinese President Xi Jinping and supporting Tibet’s self-determination.
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