NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal has revealed he is considering setting up base in Abu Dhabi following his maiden visit to the UAE capital as an ambassador for the ongoing NBA Abu Dhabi Games.
The former Orlando Magic and LA Lakers star has been impressed by what the city has to offer and spoke about exploring the emirates.
Taking a break between his duties around the Milwaukee Bucks and Atlanta Hawks games at Etihad Arena, 'Shaq' also met with Dmitry Bivol, the WBA light heavyweight champion who is training in the emirate ahead of his title fight at the Etihad Arena against undefeated Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez on November 5.
O’Neal explored the Arabian desert and was treated to a traditional Emirati cultural performance.
“It’s a great honour to be here,” he said. “It’s a beautiful place. This place is fabulous: The beach, the water, the real estate, the people have been very hospitable. Kudos to the NBA for coming and kudos to Abu Dhabi for hosting us. It’s a big thing.”
On Thursday night, after being introduced to a sold-out crowd, the four-time NBA champion watched from the side-lines as the Atlanta Hawks secured a 123-113 victory over the Bucks.
He has more plans in place, including a trip to Ferrari World. And if the runs out of time on this trip, O'Neal has already started making contingency plans.
“I want to go to Ferrari World and I want to go to the desert,” he said. “I went to my friend’s house yesterday – he has the best car collection I’ve ever seen. I just want to see everything and everywhere. And I’m also looking at some real estate because I’d like to live here.”
Running concurrently with the NBA Abu Dhabi Games, organisers have set up an “NBA District” at Manarat Al Saadiyat that will run until Sunday.
Fans will have the chance to grab photo opportunities with NBA legends and memorabilia including the Larry O’Brien Trophy, as well as test their abilities across a range of fun basketball challenges.
A one-day ticket for the NBA District costs Dh55. Fans can purchase tickets by visiting NBAEvents.com/AbuDhabi. Download the NBA Events App for a full schedule of activities and appearances by NBA personalities.