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Friday, June 24, 2011
Dirk Nowitzki shoots, then throws first pitch

By Richard Durrett

ARLINGTON, Texas -- As NBA Finals MVP Dirk Nowitzki was announced to the large crowd at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on Friday night, he carried a basketball with him to the mound.

Dirk Nowitzki
Dirk Nowitzki prepares to throw high heat before the Rangers' game against the Mets.
Nowitzki shot his patented jumper before taking out a baseball and firing toward the Rangers' Michael Young, a Los Angeles Lakers fan who pulled for the Mavs once they eliminated his team, at home plate. The pitch was high and Young, with quick glove work, might have saved Rangers Captain (the horse mascot) from getting hit in the head. Nowitzki just laughed, pointed at his bicep, and then signed basketballs and baseballs for charity before heading up to a suite to watch the game.

"It was busy meeting everybody, so I didn't have time to practice," Nowitzki said. "I think I did all right. I brought the heat."

Nowitzki liked the jumper better than this throw to home.

"I think I have a little more work in the jumper, so it was a little more fluid," Nowitzki said. "The only thing I wanted to do on the pitch was not keep it low. Everybody was making fun of me and that I can't do the John Wall. He obviously left it very low. I kept it a little high, but that was better than the bounce, I guess."

Wall, by the way, bounced his first pitch last week at Nationals Park in Washington D.C.

The last time Nowitzki threw out a first pitch, his then teammate Steve Nash caught the ball just behind home plate prior to a game in 2003.

"It's been a while," Nowitzki said. "It's always great to be here. I'm a Ranger fan. I came out last year to support them in their run to the playoffs and they unfortunately came up a little short like we did in '06. Hopefully one day they'll be back on that stage and get it done."

Nowitzki is heading home to Germany this weekend and isn't sure what's in store for him when he arrives. He noted that J.J. Barea got parades in two different cities in his native Puerto Rico.

"I think I'm just going to get one [parade]," Nowitzki said. "We'll see what my hometown can come up with. It's going to be great. I haven't seen my family yet because I told them to let me concentrate on the playoffs. So they were a little disappointed , but hopefully I can make up for it and spend some time with them this summer and really enjoy it and celebrate it."

Nowitzki still has not decided whether to play for the German national team. He said he's going to take some vacation and think about things before making a decision.

Nowitzki wore a Rangers blue cap and a Rangers jersey -- with the No. 41 and "Nowitzki" on the back, of course -- and said he didn't get to practice throwing the first pitch because he was busy meeting the Rangers players and manager Ron Washington and signing autographs.

Nowitzki said he hasn't thought much about next year, but head coach Rick Carlisle's mind is thinking ahead already.

"Coach Carlisle is such a freak," Nowitzki said. "He texted us already: 'Get some rest. We got to repeat.' I was like, 'We just won. Can't we get like at least two or three weeks get over what we did?' So he's already fired up for next season. I think everybody else is still kind of in shock and it will take a few weeks to sink in and enjoy it."