To no one’s surprise – certainly not BallinEurope’s, in any case – FIBA Europe today announced its men’s player of the year award would go to the longtime Team Germany/Dallas Mavericks superstar. Less than suspenseful, too, were the results of the top five finishers: Behind Dastardly Dirk came Juan Carlos “La Bomba” Navarro, Bo McCalebb, Pau Gasol and Andrei Kirilenko.
Official FIBA Europe press release and highlights follow.
(FIBA Europe) – FIBA Europe announced on Tuesday that Dirk Nowitzki of Germany has been voted the 2011 European Player of the Year.
Nowitzki was the winner of the expert panel vote ahead of Spain captain/EuroBasket 2011 MVP Juan Carlos Navarro, while he placed fourth in the public voting.
It is the second time Nowitzki lands the coveted FIBA Europe award, as he was the winner of the first edition, in 2005. He was also named 2011 Germany’s Athlete of the Year last December.
The highlight of the year for the German star came on 12 June, just a week ahead of his 33rd birthday: He led the Dallas Mavericks to their fourth win in the NBA playoff final series against the Miami Heat, conquering the title and earning Finals MVP honours.
Nowitzki, who has been playing for Dallas since the beginning of his NBA career in 1998, raised his game as pressure mounted in the playoffs to secure a historic first NBA championship for the Texas franchise. He averaged 27.7 points, 8.2 rebounds and 2.5 assists in the play-offs, up from 23.0 points and 7.0 rebounds per game in the regular season.
The 2.13m forward responded to his national team’s call later in the summer and suited up for Germany at the EuroBasket in Lithuania; Nowitzki averaged 19.5 points, 6.6 rebounds and 1.4 assists but could not avert a rather disappointing ninth-place finish for Germany.
The dedication of one the biggest basketball players of all time, though, especially after a long and exhausting NBA season, was never in question.
Nowitzki has represented Germany in six EuroBaskets, two World Championships and the Beijing Olympic Games, leading them to the silver medal at EuroBasket 2005 and the bronze at the 2002 World Championship. He is the EuroBasket tournament’s second all-time leading scorer, behind Nikos Galis of Greece.
“Dirk is not only a fantastic athlete and a world-class basketball player,” said FIBA Europe President Olafur Rafnsson. “He is above all a great person, honest, hard-working, loyal and humble. In my eyes, he is someone that young people, basketball players or otherwise, should look up to.”
“2011 was a landmark year for Dirk,” commented FIBA Europe Secretary General Nar Zanolin. “He finally achieved one of his dreams with millions of fans in Europe and around the world cheering him on. A remarkable person and a true ambassador of basketball, I could not be happier for him.”
Voting results were as follows. The ten nominees are listed by rank, with popular vote and expert-panel ranking following in parentheses.
1. Dirk Nowitzki (4/1)
2. Juan Carlos Navarro (2/2)
3. Bo McCalebb (1/3)
4. Pau Gasol (5/4)
5. Andrei Kirilenko (9/5)
6. Dimitris Diamantidis (6/8)
7. Tony Parker (8/7)
8. Dusko Savanovic (2/9)
9. Nicolas Batum (9/8)
10. Marc Gasol (10/10)