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The NBA announced Tuesday it’s staging a pair of preseason games between the Milwaukee Bucks and Atlanta Hawks in Abu Dhabi in October.
The league already confirmed plans to have the Washington Wizards and Golden State Warriors play in Saitama, Japan, during the upcoming preseason.
The Abu Dhabi games are months in the making. The NBA announced in November it had signed a deal with the local Department of Culture and Tourism. Part of the agreement guaranteed two preseason games to mark the league’s first trip to the Arabian Gulf.
“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.
Commissioner Adam Silver’s predecessor, David Stern, had a vision to turn the NBA into a global game, and that helped the league’s popularity explode overseas.
The NBA Global Games was one way to give international fans a taste of what happens in the Association on a nightly basis. The COVID-19 pandemic meant the series had to temporarily go on hold.
The 2019-20 season was the last time the NBA held events in foreign markets. It had preseason games in India, Japan and China, in addition to regular-season contests in Mexico City and Paris.