NBA Makes History In Abu Dhabi: 5 Powerful Moments

The 2022-23 NBA season kicks-off this week. Prior to the season’s opener, the Atlanta Hawks were apart of history after it became one of the first teams to play an NBA game in Abu Dhabi.

In the first Abu Dhabi Games, the Hawks played two preseason games against the Milwaukee Bucks. But beyond the play on the court, there were several notable events that took place in the region to highlight NBA basketball culture. Here are 5 powerful moments. 

Atlanta Hawks and Milwaukee Bucks put on a show 

The Hawks and Bucks did not disappoint on the court. In their first preseason matchup at Etihad Arena on Oct. 6, the Hawks outlasted the Bucks by a score of 123-113 as the team got an opportunity to showcase Trae Young’s new backcourt mate, Dejounte Murray. Both players were impactful with Murray leading the way with 25 points, nine assists and eight rebounds in just over 30 minutes. Young added 22 points and  DeAndre Hunter finished with 17 points. Two days later, the Hawks would sweep the Bucks behind Young’s dazzling 31-point performance. Off the court, the Hawks took a team visit to the historic Grand Mosque.

Dejounte Murray Discusses Impact of Atlanta’s culture 

Following game 1, Murray spoke about the impact of Atlanta’s culture and helping the city reach an international stage with the Abu Dhabi games. “Atlanta is a beautiful city that has beautiful culture, and beautiful people, beautiful city,” Murray told ADW. “It’s a great thing that we can represent, not only the Atlanta Hawks, but the city of Atlanta and the entire state of Georgia.”

Dominique Wilkins Hosts Opening of NBA Store 

Atlanta Hawks legend Dominique Wilkins served as host for the opening of the first NBA Store in Abu Dhabi. Wilkins signed autographs and took photos with fans. “Expanding the borders with basketball is important for the game,” Wilkins told ADW during an exclusive interview. “This is a statement. Atlanta has continued to show support outside of itself. Atlanta has given us the ability to do some remarkable things. So this is apart of taking the next step.”

Shaq Hosts Friday Night Party in NBA District

Shaquille O’Neal served as the host of a party that took place at the NBA District on Oct. 7. The NBA District featured several activations that included displays of Hall of Fame players such as O’Neal, Grant Hill, Isiah Thomas, and Vince Carter. There was also a video gaming area, a basketball court, and food village where attendees could experience bites from the region. Shaq kept the crowd engaged throughout the event with chants and calls to action. And the night ended with a performance by Fabolous.

American celebs Steve Harvey, Martin Lawrence, and Shaq sit courtside

Several American celebs made the trip overseas to witness the Hawks take on the Bucks in Abu Dhabi. Steve Harvey, Martin Lawrence, Shaq, and rapper OT Genesis where all spotted sitting courtside during the games. When asked about meeting Harvey for the first time, Trae Young said, “It was actually my first time meeting Steve Harvey. He told me how much he was a fan. Me seeing him on different shows, I’ve always been a fan. It’s blessing and I don’t take that for granted at all.”



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