The Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi) and the National Basketball Association (NBA) culminated the expanded second season of the Jr. NBA Abu Dhabi League in a finals event on 12 March at the NYU Abu Dhabi campus featuring special appearances by 11-time NBA All-Star Allen Iverson and two-time WNBA champion Lisa Leslie.
Iverson and Leslie were on hand to interact with the young players and presented awards during the closing ceremony, which saw the second annual Jr. NBA Abu Dhabi League champions crowned, Cranleigh School for the girls team, the boys league A went to American Community School (ACS) and the boys league B went to the Australian School of Abu Dhabi.
The Jr. NBA Abu Dhabi League expanded from 30 teams in its inaugural season in March 2022 to 60 teams for this season. The programme is part of a groundbreaking multiyear partnership between the NBA and DCT Abu Dhabi that saw Abu Dhabi host the first-ever preseason NBA games in the Arabian Gulf in October 2022.
A 14-year NBA veteran, Iverson was named the NBA Most Valuable Player in 2001, named to the All-NBA First and Second Teams three times each and was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2016. Leslie is an eight-time WNBA All-Star across 11 seasons in the league, a three-time WNBA MVP, a four-time Olympic gold medalist and was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2015.
The Jr. NBA is the league’s global youth basketball programme for boys and girls, teaching the fundamental skills and core values of the game – teamwork, respect, determination and community – at the grassroots level in an effort to help grow and improve the youth basketball experience for players, coaches and parents. The Jr. NBA Abu Dhabi League aims to promote the values of the game and encourage youth to lead an active and healthy lifestyle through participation in sport.