Two NBA exhibition meetings between the Denver Nuggets, champions in 2023, and the Boston Celtics, best team this season, will be organized in October in Abu Dhabi (Saudi Arabia), the NBA announced on Wednesday.

Celtics and Nuggets will face off in preseason games on October 4 and 6, a few weeks before the start of the 2024-2025 season.

“There is incredible momentum for basketball in Saudi Arabia as well as the Middle East, and we believe that these matches and the efforts made to develop fan engagement will be a catalyst for the growth of the sport in the region,” said NBA Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum.

Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James visited Riyadh in September 2023, notably visiting young Saudi basketball players.

The powerful oil-rich Gulf monarchy, often singled out for its human rights violations, invests billions of dollars in world sport (golf, football, boxing, rallying, F1, etc.).

The latest investment to date, Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund (PIF) became the “official partner” of the ATP tennis rankings last week.