Sunday, March 20, 2011
Updated: March 22, 3:04 PM ET
Dirk Nowitzki ponders Olympic scenario
By Jeff Caplan
DALLAS -- If labor strife produces an expected lockout and possibly eats into next season, Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki reiterated Sunday night his desire to return to the German national team as it attempts to qualify this summer for the 2012 Olympics in London.
The last time the NBA had a lockout that resulted in a shortened season, Nowitzki was a rookie during that 1998-99 campaign. He was drafted in June but remained in Germany to play with his pro team.
Nowitzki said Sunday, though, that there is one scenario that could keep him from joining his countrymen -- lockout or no.
"That all depends on how this season plays out,'' Nowitzki said. "If we have a long run to June, I might not. Everything's kind of up in the air with the lockout.''
Nowitzki led the German team to the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing and was his country's flag bearer during opening ceremonies. It is a moment that Nowitzki has said he will never forget. Earlier this season, Nowitzki said the current German team is filled with young players whom he would like to help realize their Olympic dreams.
Nowitzki will turn 33 in June and he has said that 2012 would probably be his last shot at playing in the Olympics.
"If we're locked out, I might play this summer,'' he said. "We have a qualification coming up for the Olympics again. The Olympics for me in Beijing were so much fun. They were a blast. I'd love to go to London, but we have to qualify for it first. We have that this summer; if we're locked out and I know it's going to be a little longer and I don't have anything going anyway, I might as well stay in shape and play."
And how does Nowitzki see things shaping up on the labor front?
"Hopefully, we can find a way to kind of resolve this a little earlier and not have a shortened season, and still, hopefully, find a good way for the owners and for the players so we can still have an 82-game season," Nowitzki said. "It doesn't look good right now, but things can change in a meeting or two meetings, and within a day or two things can change. We'll just have to see what happens this summer."
Jeff Caplan covers the Mavericks for ESPNDallas.com.