Surely to no one’s surprise, Gazzetta dello Sport gave its prestigious Euroscar Player of the Year Award to Dirk Nowitzki, he of the defending NBA champion Dallas Mavericks. Clearly the favorite to take FIBA Europe’s equivalent award, the Mav was bestowed with the honor on the same night he collected his bling-bling title ring in Dallas.
Enrico Cellini has gathered a few choice quotes from la Gazzetta’s interview with Nowitzki, including the German’s thoughts on his favorite Italian player, meeting Angela Merkel and topping Arvydas Sabonis.
On January 27, Dirk Nowitzki did not play for the Mavericks against the Minnesota Timberwolves but still brought home two interesting souvenirs from American Air Center. As you are reading BallinEurope, you don’t probably care too much about the diamond-encrusted $40K NBA championship ring (courtesy of Mark Cuban) that Dirk received in a touching ceremony (courtesy of Rick Carlisle), do you? Instead, what’s worth reporting about that night is the fact that Wunder Dirk also received the Europlayer 2011 award, an acknowledgement assigned by Italian Gazzetta dello Sport to the best European basketball player of the season.
You may see the ceremony here.
All right, so it wasn’t quite as dramatic as the ring ceremony but still …
Gazzetta dello Sport later published in its printed version an interview with Nowitzki, in which Würzburg’s finest touched on several topics.
Said Dirk on the loss in the 2005-06 NBA Finals to the Miami Heat: “That experience actually helped me – it made me improve: Now I handle the fourth quarter with more intelligence.”
However, Nowitzki then add that, for last year’s finals, he left his parents and his sister home because of that 2006 series: “They came in 2006 and it went badly: Too many distractions around. This time I wanted to stay focused. They really got mad at me. And now I regret such a choice!”
Asked which Italian NBA player he would like to have in his team, Nowitzki said, “Tough choice. Perhaps [Danilo] Gallinari, as he can play both small and power forward. He’s got a nice shot and the ability to draw fouls. But I like [Andrea] Bargnani, too – he’s improved a lot. He used to play only from the perimeter, and now he steps up.”
On his meeting with German chancellor Angela Merkel: “She’s nice, I spent half an hour with her, she asked me a lot of questions – even though she doesn’t know a lot about basketball!”
On his future, Dirk said that “I’ll play for at least two more years. Afterward, I’d like to stay in the basketball world. I see myself as a teacher to the kids, but I still don’t know if I’ll do it here in Texas or in Germany.”
Finally, he has no doubts on the next challenge: “This is my sixth Europlayer award, I want to get one more, beat [Arvydas] Sabonis and be no. 1 in [Gazetta della Sport’s all-time] rankings.”
Ricky Rubio, Los Gasoles, Gallinari and Bargnani: You have been warned.
Enrico Cellini is lifelong basketball fanatic and a long-time sportswriter with a focus on Italy and Spain. He was born among European hoops, was raised watching the NBA, and thinks choosing between American and European basketball is like choosing between one’s mother and father. You can follow him on Twitter or check out his Italian-language blog Hoop Addicted.