BallinEurope friends and sponsors Kickz.com recently managed to score an interview with Mr. All-Time Europa NBA himself, Dirk Nowitzki while his Dallas Mavericks trained in the preseason.
Below runs a translation of the German-language discussion in which Dirk discusses the importance of Caron Butler, which teams showed interest in him during the offseason, the collective bargaining agreement, and the possibility of playing with new Bundesliga basketball team Bayern München when his days as a Dallas Maverick are over.
Kickz: The new season is finally here. What is your goal?
Dirk Nowitzki: To win the championship, of course. What else is there for me anymore after I’ve already personally achieved more than I ever thought I would. I had the summer free and did a lot of individual training with Holger Geschwindner. In the beginning, it was really hard and I had sore muscles for it, but now I’m back in rhythm. I feel good and I’m a bit lighter than last season. The team also looks very good.
Kickz: The Mavericks’ roster is almost the same as last season: Only Tyson Chandler and rookie Dominique Jones are new. What do you think of them?
Nowitzki: Tyson Chandler will help us in any case. He is very athletic, can block and finish right to the basket. I have seen Dominique Jones in training camp already. He has good ball handling, but still some problems with shooting. With these two, we have strengthened our team and we were good last year.
Kickz: You had the chance to leave Dallas as a free agent this off-season. Instead, you signed a new four-year contract. Why?
Nowitzki: I always wanted to stay in Dallas – I’ve made no secret of that. My title chances would have been just as high elsewhere. Of the teams that had money for me –the New Jersey Nets, Chicago Bulls and New York Knicks – I had no relation to them. Loyalty played into my decision. It wouldn’t have felt right for me to leave. Now I can have another four years in Dallas to fulfill my dream to win a ring.
Kickz: LeBron James did it differently: He left the Cleveland Cavaliers to win a title now with the Miami Heat. How do you view James’ choice?
Nowitzki: He was a free agent and he made his decision. And it was not a bad decision: The Miami Heat became favorites overnight and will definitely play hard.
Kickz: Mark Cuban recently said that the Mavericks have the deepest squad in the league. Do you agree?
Nowitzki: Whether we actually have the deepest team is hard to say, but our bench is very strong. If we’re looking at who is sitting, Jason Terry and Shawn Marion come off the bench. At center, either Brendan Haywood or Tyson Chandler will come off the bench. And Rodrigue Beaubois must not be forgotten. If [Beaubois] is fit again, we have a lot of options. Our deep bench sure gives us a lot of weapons.
Kickz: Caron Butler is a bit of the X-factor in your game. How important is he for to the Mavericks?
Nowitzki: In training camp, he looked very good and played well. We definitely need a good year from him. For us, it’s very important that can someone else can score next to me. The fact that he came so late to us in the winter certainly made it difficult. Especially in crucial situations in the playoffs, you could notice that we were not properly prepared. Now we have had the whole training camp to prepare for the season.
Kickz: The new collective bargaining agreement hovers like a dark cloud over the new season. How do you assess the situation?
Nowitzki: The situation in the NBA as a whole is not that great – as with the economy. [Player] salaries will go down in any case. … I think we need players to be ready for anything, and I’m assuming there will be a lockout.
Kickz: FC Bayern have recently started a very ambitious project [i.e. designs on taking its new second-division basketball club to the Bundesliga top division by as early as next season]. Can you imagine playing in Munich after your NBA career?
Nowitzki: That’s a good question. First, I have a four-year contract in Dallas and a lot could happen in that time. We’ll see then how my [physical condition] is and if I still have a mind to play basketball. But yeah, if I can’t physically compete in the NBA but I still feel like playing basketball, then Europe is an option.
I’m following what’s happening in Munich, of course; I’ve heard that Demond Greene and Steffen Hamann are injured, which I find very sad. It’s very unfortunate for FC Bayern.