Five-time NBA championship-winning player and four-time championship-winning coach, Kerr was born in the Middle East and brings unique perspective on growth on game in the region
Abu Dhabi, UAE – August 14, 2023: International Basketball Week in Abu Dhabi will see Steve Kerr, the nine-time NBA champion, bring his US National Team to the UAE for the first time as part of a historical US Basketball Showcase later this week.
Kerr, who won five NBA Championships as point guard with the Chicago Bulls and San Antonio Spurs and added four more as coach of the Golden State Warriors, brings a unique perspective on the growth of basketball in the Middle East – he was born in Lebanon and attended school in Beirut and Cairo.
Six top basketball nations will convene in the UAE capital to finalize their preparations for the upcoming FIBA World Cup, scheduled to take place across Indonesia, Japan, and the Philippines from August 25 to September 10. The week-long International Basketball Week will significantly bolster Abu Dhabi’s position as a global sports destination.
The US Men’s National Team, competing in the region for the first time, will go head-to-head with Germany and Greece on August 18 and 20 respectively. Additionally, Germany and Greece will engage in a separate World Cup warm-up match on August 19. Lebanon, Egypt and Mexico will also face off against each other.
Kerr, in his role as coach of the US National Team, can provide a distinct perspective on the global basketball landscape given his varied background. Acknowledging the progress made by players and teams from Middle Eastern countries, he said such growth underscores the globality of basketball and is pleasing to see for those with ties to the region.
“It’s very exciting for me to witness the advancement of basketball in the Middle East,” said Kerr. “The improvement of the national teams in Egypt, Lebanon, and Jordan is exhilarating and brings me happiness due to my history in the Middle East.”
As Team USA readies for the upcoming FIBA World Cup in Indonesia, Japan, and the Philippines, his side’s two preparation games in Abu Dhabi will stand them in good stead, added Kerr from a training camp in Spain.
“We really need these exhibition games. We had one in Las Vegas, two here in Malaga, and two upcoming in Abu Dhabi before the tournament commences. These games hold substantial significance, particularly the ones in Abu Dhabi as they lead into the tournament. By then, we will have spent several weeks as a team. I believe these matches will strongly indicate our team’s progress. Facing Greece and Germany, two formidable teams, adds to our excitement.”
The USA team face Greece both in Abu Dhabi and a few days later in Group C at the FIBA World Cup. Kerr said the lessons available from playing the same team so close to competition are invaluable and offer both sides an opportunity to “size each other up”.
“We must decide how much to reveal and withhold,” he added. “However, the primary focus is on benefiting both teams, as the aim is to confront formidable competition and be well-prepared for the tournament. Greece is undoubtedly an exceptional team.”
International Basketball Week will get underway on Thursday, August 17, with Lebanon taking on Egypt at the custom-built center court at the Etihad Arena. The US will then meet Greece as part of a double-header on Friday August 18 that also sees Lebanon face Mexico. August 19 features Germany versus Greece, before 24 hours later to close out the basketball extravaganza the US will face Germany.