x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

NBA's Kobe Bryant to play game in Dubai against Real Madrid

Los Angeles shooting guard will lead 'Team Black Mamba' against a Real Madrid side as part of health campaign.

Kobe Bryant, one of NBA's most successful players, will also hold a coaching clinic in Dubai for youngsters. Stephen Dunn / Getty Images / AFP
Kobe Bryant, one of NBA's most successful players, will also hold a coaching clinic in Dubai for youngsters. Stephen Dunn / Getty Images / AFP

Kobe Bryant, one of the world's elite basketball players, will headline the Kobe Bryant Health & Fitness Weekend, in support of diabetes awareness, next month in Dubai, organisers said on Monday.

Bryant will make several public appearances during his first visit to the Middle East, on September 26 and 27. On the latter day, he will coach Team Black Mamba, a designation which plays on his preferred nickname, in a celebrity basketball game at Knights Arena at American University in Dubai.

Bryant, who turns 35 this week, is recovering from a ruptured Achilles tendon and hopes to be ready to join the Los Angeles Lakers training camp in October, ahead of the start of the 2013/14 season, four weeks later.

The Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC) is the title partner for the Kobe Bryant Health & Fitness Weekend. DMCC has a mandate from the government of Dubai to provide the infrastructure to set up a commodities marketplace in Dubai. DMCC recently announced plans to build the world's tallest commercial tower as part of an expansion plan to attract more multinationals.

"At DMCC we strongly believe that a healthier lifestyle means a better quality of life," said Ahmed bin Sulayem, the executive chairman of DMCC.

"The Kobe Bryant Health & Fitness Weekend presented by DMCC, will show our youth that fitness can be fun and interacting as one of the world's greatest basketball legends will inspire them to aim high and stay healthy."

Bryant has been one of the most popular players in the National Basketball Association during his 17-year career; only last year did the five-time champion surrender his place atop licensed NBA jersey sales to LeBron James. Bryant is now No 2.

He also is the highest-salaried athlete in the US; the Lakers will pay him US$30.5 million (Dh112m) for the coming season, nearly $8m more than the No 2 earner, Dirk Nowitzki.

Bryant won NBA championships with the Lakers, his only club, in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2009 and 2010. The 15-time all-star was the league's MVP in 2008 and the play-offs MVP in 2009 and 2010. He has nine times been named to the NBA's all-defensive team.

He also has two Olympic gold medals, from 2008 and 2012, while leading the US team.

With 32,292 points, Bryant is No 4 on the NBA career scoring list, trailing Michael Jordan by 645 points. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar leads at 38,387, with Karl Malone second. Bryant aspires to eclipse Abdul-Jabbar.

His career took a detour on April 12, when he suffered a torn Achilles tendon during a game, prematurely ending his season. He had surgery one day later, and has intimated he intends to be ready to play when the Lakers open the season, on October 29 – even though recovery from an Achilles tendon rupture typically has required a full year.

At the celebrity game on September 27, Bryant will lead the warm-up for his team, which will include the music artist Soulja Boy and Marwan Parham, also known as DJ Bliss, the presenter of the That's Entertainment TV show. At least one former NBA player is expected to join Bryant’s team, organisers said.

Playing against Team Black Mamba will be the Real Madrid basketball legends, part of the world's most successful sports franchise.

Tickets for the celebrity basketball game are available online at timeouttickets.com.

An interactive official website, www.kobefitnessuae.com, will be launched to provide information for the weekend events including profiles on the players, a schedule of events, as well as a chance to win tickets for the game by testing health and fitness knowledge.

The event is supported by Nike, the sports apparel maker, and GEMS Education. The DMCC event is in association with the Dubai Diabetes Association, Expo 2020, Dubai Calendar and the Dubai Sports Council.

It is organised by Maven Marketing & Events.

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