Maybe his employer doesn’t like it. Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has made his concerns about NBA players participating in international competition clear over the years. (Cuban declined comment last month when Dirk was pondering what the Finals MVP called a difficult decision, and lockout rules forbid Cuban from commenting now.)
However, Cuban and everybody else associated with the Mavericks certainly have to appreciate Dirk’s loyalty to Germany. It’s the same admirable quality that led Dirk to give Dallas a significant hometown discount last summer despite the Mavs’ recent history of playoff disappointments.
Those disappointments feel like distant memories now, after Nowitzki served as the lone superstar during the Mavericks’ amazing championship run. That title, which came in Dirk’s 13th season, hushed any doubt that he’s one of the elite players in NBA history. It’s an experience that he ranks as one of the two defining moments of his career, right up there with carrying the German flag during opening ceremonies during the Beijing Olympics.
That tells you how deeply Dirk cares about the German national team. The fact that he decided not to play the last two summers, a mutual decision he made with Cuban, is evidence of his tremendous dedication to the Mavs.
Now, Germany needs Nowitzki. They have to have a strong performance in the upcoming EuroBasket tournament to have a chance to play in the 2012 Olympic Games. Dirk is determined to help a young supporting cast, which other than Clippers big man Chris Kaman has turned over since the 2008 Olympics, experience that dream.
That sort of loyalty and commitment was applauded in Dallas last summer. This should be no different.
With the lockout likely to result in canceled games, Mavs fans shouldn’t worry about the additional wear and tear on Dirk’s body. They should simply enjoy the chance to see their superstar play for the purest possible reasons, fueled by nothing but the love of the game and his country.