The first game ends at ET on Thursday and the second at ET on SaturdayGetty Images
The NBA Abu Dhabi Games 2022 will see the Hawks and Bucks play two games at the Etihad Arena on Yas Island, marking the league’s first games in the UAE and Arabian Gulf. The first game ends at ET on Thursday and the second at ET on Saturday. The NBA has a long presence in the region, having staged games there for 35 years and seen several notable players – Kobe Bryant, Hakeem Olajuwon and Dikembe Mutombo – visit the UAE for clinics and fan events. League leaders see this week’s games as the culmination of more than three decades of work to grow the game in the region. “We play games there, we’ve played games in virtually every region around the world,” NBA assistant commissioner Mark Tatum told the SBJ. “A big part of our strategy is to make sure people can touch and feel the game because we know that has an impact on growing the fan base.”
EXPANDING FOOTPRINT: Fans can participate today through Sunday in the NBA District, an immersive, interactive event showcasing music, media and art related to NBA culture. The NBA also runs a series of youth basketball engagement programs in partnership with the Hawks and Bucks. The league’s first Jr. NBA Week in the Middle East runs until Sunday and will reach nearly 2,000 youth, coaches and stakeholders from the UAE, Middle East and Europe. Events will feature Hawks and Bucks players/coaches, NBA and WNBA legends and more. The games will be shown live in the UAE and the Middle East and North Africa on beIN Sports, The Sports Channel and NBA League Pass. Marketing partners include Gatorade, NBA 2K23, Nike, SAP, Tissot and Visit Abu Dhabi. “The Bucks and Hawks will hopefully spread the goodwill and joy of NBA basketball in an area with a significant population,” Hawks general manager Steve Koonin told the SBJ. “When you look at Abu Dhabi and the UAE that have the resources to really use sport as a way to continue to grow their country and their culture, this is the perfect time to expand our footprint.”
STAY STANDING: This week’s activities around the games are:
- Atlanta Hawks youth programming: Hawks players and coaches conducted three concurrent youth development events at the three-court facility on the NYU Abu Dhabi campus, including basketball clinics for boys and girls from the inaugural Jr. NBA Abu Dhabi League and the Abu Dhabi Special Olympics program.
- NBA Coaches Clinics: Hawks assistant coaches Joe Prunty and Mike Longabardi and Bucks assistant coaches Mike Dunlap and Vince Legarza will host clinics for more than 300 men’s and women’s basketball coaches from across the UAE.
- Bucks Youth Programming: Bucks players and coaches led players from the NBA Basketball School in Dubai and the Jr. NBA Elite training camp through drills, skill points and challenges at NYU’s Abu Dhabi campus.
- Jr. NBA School Clinics: The NBA will hold eight Jr. NBA clinics for boys and girls at local schools in Abu Dhabi, two of which will be attended by former NBA standout Dominique Wilkins and WNBA legend Ticha Penicheiro (Portugal).
- NBA Hoops For Troops Meet & Greets: In partnership with the United Service Organizations (USO), the NBA will host members of the United States military to meet and greet NBA legends at both games.
- NBA Basketball School Showcase: Athletes from the Dubai NBA Basketball School – a full-time program for boys and girls aged 6-18 – travel to Abu Dhabi to participate in a multi-day basketball development program.
- Jr. NBA Elite Training Camp: The NBA will host the top 25 boys and girls from Jr. NBA leagues from Europe and the Middle East and the NBA Basketball School in Dubai at the Elite Training Camp in Abu Dhabi. The athletes come from 11 countries.
- NBA District Youth Basketball Clinics: The league hosts nine youth basketball clinics on the NBA circuit.
- Wish fulfillment experience: In partnership with DCT Abu Dhabi and the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the NBA hosted four local children and their families at Thursday’s game.
- His time to play in the clinic: On Friday, the NBA hosted a “Her Time To Play” clinic at NYU’s Abu Dhabi campus for 70 girls from the Jr. NBA Elite Training Camp and NBA Basketball School in Dubai.