Two teams that were eliminated from NBA Playoffs contention, the Sacramento Kings and the Dallas Mavericks, took the stage in Golden 1 Center on Tuesday night. After the Kings got the 98-87 home win over the Mavericks, we did an exclusive interview with the legendary Dirk Nowitzki.
First of all, let’s start with this season. The Mavs roster was seen as one of the weakest of the league. However, you still managed to hold on to the 35 win plateau. What is your secret?
We weren’t strong this year; we had a lot of injuries. Our veteran players got hurt and I missed almost two months. It was unfortunate but our young guys are hungry and they play well. We won some tough games; we won games in San Antonio and Cleveland. We had some good wins this season but overall, we were not consistent enough.
In 2011, the Mavs won the championship and you had your version of “Flu Game” in the Finals. How did you manage to come out and play in spite of a sickness?
You know, it was the Finals and I wanted to be out there to help my team win. We were down 2-1 at the time [I got sick]. It was a big game and we needed to win. I’m glad I got out there and help the team get this big win. After 2-2, we got two more wins and won the title. It was awesome.
Recently, you surpassed 30.000 points against the Lakers and Holger Geschwinder was spotted as he fought back his tears. Did you talk to him afterwards? How did you feel at that moment?
It was an emotional week. He’s obviously spent a lot of time with me. It’s been a great ride. Coming here at 20, nobody expected me to do anything. I didn’t know what to do or where this was gonna take me. So, it’s been a crazy ride but that week was definitely emotional and to know that only five or six guys have reached that mark is special to me. I’ll never forget that moment for sure.
You came into the league at the age of 20, a bold move for the time. Given that there were only a handful of European players back then, what was the main motivation that drove you to get here?
I wanted to be in the best league in the world. I wanna compete with the best players and that’s why I came here. I didn’t know what to do or expect. It was hard at the beginning, in my first year or two but once I got more used to the league, I really had good times. I’m glad it worked out.
In EuroBasket 2017, Germany is in a tough group, featuring Italy, Lithuania, Georgia etc. What do you think about their chances in the tournament in Istanbul? You also played in Istanbul back then…
Obviously, I’m not gonna play now but I like our team. If we’re healthy, if Dennis Schröder plays, if some of our guys come, we have a good team. Hopefully they can get through the group phase. Turkey is a great basketball country. I had a great experience there [in EuroBasket 2001]. Every time I played there, there were great fans and a great atmosphere. I wish Germany all the best.
As one of the main guys who put Germany into basketball map, would you like to have an executive role in German Basketball Federation in the future, like Hido Türkoğlu and Andrei Kirilenko?
We’ll see what life after basketball brings. As of now, I am not sure. I’m probably gonna stick around the US little bit. I’ve been here for so long. We will see what my period after basketball is like. So, that’s something that I will worry about later.