LOS ANGELES (AFP) — The National Basketball Association (NBA) will stage preseason games in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) next year for the first time, the league said in a statement on Tuesday.
The league said two exhibition games will take place in Abu Dhabi in October 2022, with teams involved to be confirmed at a later date.
“Hosting NBA and NBA 2K League games and events in Abu Dhabi builds on our commitment to growing basketball around the world,” NBA deputy commissioner and chief operating officer Mark Tatum said in a statement.
The games are part of a multi-year agreement between the NBA and Abu Dhabi’s Department of Culture and Tourism.
“Through this partnership, we will bring the authentic NBA experience to fans in the UAE and support basketball development in the region by providing more opportunities for young boys and girls to learn and play the game,” Tatum added.
The NBA has a long history of staging preseason and regular season games outside North America.
The first official overseas game took place in 1978, when the Washington Bullets traveled to Israel to play Maccabi Tel Aviv.
Since then, games have been staged throughout Europe and Asia, with Japan hosting the first overseas regular season games in 1990, and China regularly staging games up until 2019.
Relations between the NBA and China ruptured in October 2019 after former Houston Rockets chief Daryl Morey posted a tweet expressing solidarity with protesters in Hong Kong.