ON Tuesday, the NBA announced that the Bucks and Hawks would play two preseason games in Abu Dhabi on Oct. 6 and Oct. 8. The two games will be the first time the League hosts games in the United Arab Emirates and the Arabian Gulf.
The exhibition has been billed as The NBA Abu Dhabi Games 2022.
Abu Dhabi get ready the NBA is about to take over with two preseason games at Etihad Arena on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi on Thursday, Oct. 6 and Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022 #NBAAfrica #NBA75 pic.twitter.com/zEsxqKTp3r— NBA Africa (@NBA_Africa) May 10, 2022
The Abu Dhabi games are months in the making. Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum and the NBA announced last November that it signed a deal with the Department of Culture and Tourism that guaranteed the League would play two preseason games to mark the Association’s first trip to the Arabian Gulf.
Another part of the deal is launching a youth basketball league, the Jr. NBA Abu Dhani League, for up to 450 boys and girls from schools in Abu Dhabi.
“Abu Dhabi is a vibrant multicultural hub with a demonstrated track record of hosting world-class sporting events,” NBA deputy commissioner Mark Tatum said at the time.
The NBA has confirmed plans for the Warriors and Wizards to play games in Saitama, Japan, for preseason games on Sept. 30 and Oct. 2. The slate of games will be the first games for the NBA outside of North America since Jan. 24, 2020, when Milwaukee and Charlotte met in Paris for a regular-season game about six weeks before the global pandemic started.
The NBA also held events in India, Japan, and China and another regular-season contest in Mexico City. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the NBA Global Games had been paused temporarily. The series gave fans in international markets a chance to see what goes on in the League on a nightly basis.
The last time the NBA traveled overseas for preseason contests was October 2019, when Sacramento and Indiana played twice in Mumbai, Houston and Toronto played twice in Saitama, and the Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn played a pair of games in China.
Teams going overseas for preseason games are typically allowed to open training camp a few days before the rest of the League, with most teams expecting to start camp on Sept. 26. That means opening night should be on Oct. 18, assuming the League’s calendar stays as per usual.