Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki to play for Germany at Eurobasket 2015
Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki will play for Germany at September's Eurobasket tournament after a four-year international retirement. Nowitzki announced his return to the side in a news conference in Frankfurt on Thursday.
Germany will host one of the competition's group stage rounds in Berlin. The opportunity to play in his home country was a major draw for Nowitzki in his return to international play, he said. He retired from the German side after Eurobasket 2011, which took place the off-season after he led the Mavs to an NBA championship.
In 2008, Nowitzki led Germany to an Olympic berth in Beijing.
"I've chosen to be in Berlin," Nowitzki said, according to the EuroBasket website. "I've had the whole month of May and used it to gain some distance and enjoy family time. Of course, I also have consulted the matter with my wife.
"But a EuroBasket in our home country is a huge thing and I look forward to it, I thought it would be a great way to conclude my national team career."
Nowitzki, who will turn 37 this month, is the NBA's seventh all-time leading scorer. Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has long been outspoken against NBA players competing in FIBA events due to the added minutes and physical attrition. He softened his stance this time around, according to ESPN.
"I think it's great," Cuban told ESPN.com in a message Thursday. "Games are being played in Germany. It will be a chance for his fans there to see him play."
This year's Eurobasket will be jointly hosted by Germany, France, Croatia and Latvia. Germany will host Group B matches, in a pool with Spain, Serbia, Turkey, Italy and Iceland.
"If [the EuroBasket tournament] was anywhere else, at the age of 37, it probably would have been a no-go for me," Nowitzki said. "But when I heard that EuroBasket would be played in Berlin, a great basketball city, it was something I had dreamt about."
Nowitzki joked that the Mavericks' early playoff exit to Houston helped Germany out significantly.
"Like every year, the DBB (German Basketball Federation) let me take my decision after the NBA season and, in the end, the national team was lucky that we lost so early," he said.
- Jeremy Woo