Dirk Nowitzki: “Angela Merkel is nice”; “I want to top Sabonis.”

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.”

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The BallinEurope All-Decade All-European Team

Jasikevicius: Blood, sweat and tears for 10 years

Jasikevicius: Blood, sweat and tears for 10 years

While technically this decade doesn’t end until 2010, with millions of sports websites and blogs proclaiming December 31 the end of the 2000s, who is BallinEurope to be pedantic? (Especially when there’s a good excuse to make an all-time team roster.)

Therefore, in the spirit of a new era, BallinEurope seeks to comprise Europe’s All-Decade team for the years 2000-2009. We’ve got two slots free on an ideal 12-man roster, but the first ten spots might be filled by the likes of the following.

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