Dubai: Even as fans, experts, broadcasters, the media and former players flocked to social media to congratulate the Los Angeles Lakers on their record-equalling 17th NBA Championship, Abu Dhabi also paid tribute to the basketball giants in a special way.
Yas Island’s iconic W Hotel turned to purple and gold, the colours famously worn by the Lakes, to congratulate the LeBron James-led squad making history following their 4-2 victory over Miami Heat.
The congratulatory message which saw the words NBA and Lakers radiate on the hotel’s illuminated exterior, also signified a tribute from the UFC Fight Island safe zone ‘bubble’ in recognition of the safety procedures that the NBA has been operating in with a similar bubble concept in Orlando, Florida in order to complete the 2019-2020 NBA season.
The Lakers victory had added significance as it delivered a fitting tribute to the late great Kobe Bryant in a tumultuous season that involved moving 22 teams to the safeguarded zone of Walt Disney World in Orlando during the middle of a global pandemic, which in a way was similar to the UFC’s move to YAS Island for a series of major MMA events.
When LeBron and Co lift the coveted Larry O’Brien Championship trophy there was no denying the fact that they were all thinking of Kobe Bryant, one of the Laker’s all-time greats who tragically passed away in a helicopter crash at the start of the season.
This weekend Abu Dhabi’s YAS Island hosts the fourth of five major fight cards at the Flash Forum which is highlighted by UFC Fight Night, which is headlined by Brian Ortega against “The Korean Zombie” Jung Chan-sung.
Sunday’s event also hosts a mouth-watering women’s fight between former strawweight champion Jessica Andrade, who will be making her flyweight debut against No 1-ranked contender Katlyn Chookagian.