After leading the Dallas Mavericks to their first NBA title last month, Dirk Nowitzki has committed to the German national team for the European Championship, which will be held in Lithuania in August.
Nowitzki will don a Germany jersey this summer
After leading the Dallas Mavericks to their first ever NBA title by beating the Miami Heat in the Finals, it would have been easy for Dirk Nowitzki to return to Miami (the site of the decisive Game 6) and spend the rest of the summer lounging on the beach, watching the sun glisten off his brand-new championship ring.
Instead, Nowitzki answered a call from the fatherland to spend the summer in Lithuania, where he'll be a part of Germany's squad at the European Basketball Championship that starts at the end of August.
"It's not much of a break, but I want to help this young German team achieve success at the European Championship," said Nowitzki in a statement on the German Basketball Association's (DBB) website. "Now I'll do everything I can to get myself in shape, and I'm looking forward to this event with the guys."
Joining Nowitzki on the German squad is two-time NBA All-Star Chris Kaman, who plays for the Los Angeles Clippers.
Key to success
Nowitzki's participation in particular is seen as an absolute game-changer for the German team. The top two teams at the European Championship, known as the EuroBasket, earn automatic qualification to next summer's Olympics in London. Without Nowitzki, Germany's chances of qualifying for the Olympics would have been drastically reduced.
Nowitzki was named the Most Valued Player of the Finals
"Dirk and Chris's decision is huge for German basketball," said DBB President Ingo Weiss on the Association's website. "That takes a huge load off my mind, and I'm looking forward more than ever to Germany's games at the European Championship in Lithuania."
In addition to playing in the tournament, Nowitzki and Kaman will join the German team for a warm-up tournament in the German town of Bamburg as well as three friendlies before the EuroBasket begins.
Spain comes into the EuroBasket as defending champions from 2009. In that tournament, as well as the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Germany did not get beyond the group stage. Nowitzki and Kaman were on the Olympic squad but not on the EuroBaskets 2009 team.
Author: Matt Zuvela