ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM's Chuck Cooperstein, aka "The Voice of the Mavericks", is with the Dallas Mavericks on their first European excursion and will blog on the team's events daily for ESPNDallas.com.
It does seem a little crazy that it has taken 15 years for the greatest pure international player ever produced (both Hakeem Olajuwon and Steve Nash were products of United States college basketball) to finally play with his NBA team in Europe. Such is life for Dirk Nowitzki, but he says the wait has been worth it.
“It is fun, I mean it is a good feeling inside, you know?," Nowitzki said. "Bringing out the passport I was the only one with the red passport, which means I’m the only German besides (Chris) Kaman, but I think he left his at home. So yeah, it is a good feeling to finally be home and have a game at home with the Mavericks here. Obviously (I've) played over the years with the German National team many many times but not with the Mavericks, so this is something new.”
But, of course, nothing is totally perfect.
“Unfortunately, the weather is not great," Nowitzki said. "We’d wish a little better weather, but we got to deal with it. But it’s exciting and looking forward to a great week with our teammates.”
In meeting with the media for 15 minutes before the Mavericks' evening practice at the O2 Arena, Dirk also addressed his legacy to the game in Germany, which has to fight for its attention.
“Over a decade that I’ve played, I wanted to take basketball to a more known status," Nowitzki said. "I’ve played (on the) national team as much as I could over the last, whatever, 12, 13 years, and just trying to make the game more popular and win more kids over to our sport. That’s what I’ve tried to do."
Exactly how much has he succeeded?
"I think sometimes it is hard since I don’t play here. I’m not here for like eight months out of the year," Nowitzki said. "Sometimes it is hard to only be here for a month and play a couple games for the national team and then leave again. Sometimes that impact is just not long enough, but I feel like I tried, we all tried.
"We had some great results with the National teams over the years. We won a silver medal at the Euros, we won a bronze medal at the Worlds, we went to the Beijing Olympics, so I think we tried everything in our power to grow the game as much as we could."
Former Mav Peja Stojakovic greeted the team at the hotel upon its return from practice. ... The Mavericks practiced for about 75 minutes. Coach Rick Carlisle said it was important for the players to get moving around and counter the effects of jet lag. They will have a more extensive practice Friday morning (Berlin time). Both Kaman (sprained back) and Brandan Wright (quadriceps) remain questionable for Saturday night’s game with Alba Berlin. Both say they’re feeling much better but won’t know until they try to go through the Friday practice whether they will be able to play.