NBA Taps Abu Dhabi For Preseason Games Featuring Bucks, Hawks

    • The games will inaugurate a multiyear partnership between the league and the nation's department of culture and tourism.
    • In addition, the Golden State Warriors and Washington Wizards will play a preseason game in Japan.

The NBA will travel overseas for the first time since 2019, and in the process host games in a new, if controversial market.

The league announced that the Milwaukee Bucks and Atlanta Hawks will play two preseason games in Abu Dhabi, the first time the NBA has played in the United Arab Emirates and on the Arabian Gulf. 

The games are scheduled for Oct. 6 and Oct. 8 at Etihad Arena on Yas Island. The “Abu Dhabi Games 2022” will inaugurate a multiyear partnership between the NBA and Abu Dhabi’s department of culture and tourism.

Additionally, the Golden State Warriors and Washington Wizards will play in Saitama, Japan, for games on Sept. 30 and Oct. 2. 

The latter games will perhaps be under less scrutiny than those in Abu Dhabi, due to that nation’s history of human rights abuses.

In Abu Dhabi, homosexuality can be punishable by death, and any LGTBQ activity is considered criminal. In 2016, the league took the All-Star Game out of Charlotte due to a discriminatory bathroom law targeted at the LGTBQ community. 

Likewise, the NBA can expect similar backlash for games held in Abu Dhabi.