SPO 221006 NBA ADAM SILVER VSAKLANI-8-1665088456036
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver addressing media before the first NBA game between Atlanta Hawks and Milwaukee Bucks at Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Adam Silver, Commissioner of the NBA, promised an epic night of basketball during his pre-match press conference and true to his word both the Atlanta Hawks and Milwaukee Bucks delivered in the first NBA game in the Gulf region. The NBA Abu Dhabi Games is part of a groundbreaking multi-year partnership between DCT Abu Dhabi and the NBA.

The partnership has already seen the launch of the first Junior NBA Abu Dhabi League for boys and girls aged between 11-14 from local schools across the capital. Silver spoke proudly about the history of the NBA in the Middle East which goes back a century. “Essentially, we trace it back to about 100 years ago,” he said. “Missionaries brought the game from the States first to Lebanon, which is still a powerhouse to this day in basketball. We’ve continued to see growth here in the region.”

Continuing the trend

The game has been televised for 35 years in the Gulf region and the Middle East and is very well known here. “Many of our greatest NBA players have visited the region in partnership with either FIBA, in some cases directly with the NBA, with local sports authorities,” continued Silver. In the history of the NBA there have been 25 players from the Middle East, North Africa region. “It’s our hope that as we continue to play games here and televise games and bring NBA information here through our new app it will encourage even more young people, boys and girls, whether aspiring to play in the NBA or the WNBA, to continue playing the game.”

A new store also opened today in Yas Mall on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi and this will only help promote NBA in the UAE. “I think it’s an opportunity to take another step forward here in terms of the game and the NBA. There’s something about having our presence here. I think for a lot of our players, many of whom have not travelled a lot, they get to see first-hand really what the UAE and Abu Dhabi is all about. It’s a very special occasion for us,” he concluded.