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Dirk Nowitzki receives top German honor

December 4, 2019

The former Dallas Mavericks star was honored in Berlin with the German Order of Merit for his work with socially deprived children. Nowitzki's charity has worked to end poverty in Africa since 2001.

Dirk Nowitzki receiving German Order of Merit from German President Frank Walter Steinmeier
Image: Reuters/F. Bensch

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier bestowed German basketball star Dirk Nowitzki with the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany on Wednesday.

The former Dallas Mavericks forward was honored in the German capital's Bellevue Palace along with 23 others for their commitment to community service.

"The things they do change the face of our country for the better," Steinmeier said as part of the ceremony. "Thank you for your time. Thank you for your energy, your drive, your creativity. You are a gift to our country."

The Order of Merit is the highest tribute Germany can pay to individuals for services to the nation.

Charity work

The 41-year-old Nowitzki, who retired from professional basketball earlier this year, works as a UNICEF ambassador for socially-deprived children and against malnutrition. In 2001, he founded the Dirk Nowitzki foundation, a charity aimed at fighting poverty in Africa.

Nowitzki is one of the most successful German athletes ever. His 31,560 points in the NBA is the sixth-highest mark in history. He was named the NBA's Most Valuable Player in 2007 and won the NBA title in 2011.

His career exploits prompted the city of Dallas, Texas to name a street after him.

dv/rt (AFP, dpa, KNA)

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