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.
They came to toast the toast of German Basketball.
Instead it was the Mavericks other member of the German national team who carried the day, as Chris Kaman scored 12 of his 14 points in the second half to lead the Mavericks past Alba Berlin, 89-84, in their preseason opener.
The Mavericks were hoping that the addition of Kaman, who signed as a free agent from New Orleans, would allow them to take some pressure off Dirk Nowitzki. After a shaky start, which saw him turn the ball over twice -- a recurring theme as the Mavericks had 26 turnovers -- Kaman came alive, hitting three turnaround jumpers early in the third to help the Mavericks build an 11 point lead at 60-49 that they would never give up. This coming after Kaman had missed a few days earlier in the week with a slight back sprain.
Kaman also grabbed six rebounds and had two blocked shots in 23 minutes. It was all part of a well-balanced night that helped the Mavs overcome a lackluster night from Nowitzki, playing in his first game in Germany as a member of the Mavericks.
Nowitzki scored just eight points on 3-9 shooting and had a hard time getting into the flow. Alba Berlin was very physical with him and didn’t allow him to get a touch of the ball for the first three minutes of the game.
However, he had help from his friends. Old ones like Shawn Marion, who provided a double-double with 12 points, 11 rebounds and three steals. His putback of an offensive rebound with 23.3 seconds left sealed the victory. And Vince Carter, who scored 14 points, knocking down 4-of-8 from 3-point range and also grabbed six rebounds. And then there were new ones like Darren Collison, who scored 14 points, dished out nine assists and had two steals.
It was a crazy three days for Nowitzki, whose every move was followed as if he were German Chancellor Angela Merkel rather than one of German sports' most famous exports. It was capped by the game at O2 World Arena that sold out in 30 minutes when tickets went on sale.
“It’s been a dream if mine as commissioner to bring the Mavericks overseas, but particularly to Germany because of a gentleman by the name of Dirk Nowitzki,” NBA Commissioner David Stern said.
Nowitzki said the moment he knew all of this would really kick in would be when he stepped on the floor before the tip off to welcome the fans. When that moment came, he was received with a rousing 30-second ovation. He took a second to compose himself before addressing the crowd in German.
About the only negative to the night was the injury to Rodrigue Beaubois, who sprained his left ankle with 1:16 left in the third quarter coming down for a rebound. It has been the left foot that has been so problematic for Beaubois the last two years. The Mavericks have Sunday off after arriving in Barcelona, so no update on his condition is expected before practice Monday.
The team will take an afternoon flight to Barcelona, arriving just in time to attend the Real Madrid-FC Barcelona “El Classico” soccer match. As hard a ticket as any to find in the world, the Mavs scraped together 15 so the entire team will attend.