Who will benefit most (at least in the short-term) from an NBA lockout to start and/or kill the 2011-12 season? European clubs! Specifically, those European clubs which are blessed with either deep-pocketed owners or which wisely stockpiled a few extra million euros in case of this eventuality.
Since before the new year, German pundits and fans have been openly speculating about the possibility of Dirk “The Flying Deutschman” Nowitzki playing in his homeland, at least on a 30- or 60-day contract, a.k.a. Mark Cuban’s worst nightmare.
Dirk has expressed some interest in playing in Germany, at least at the end of his NBA career, and the flames of hope are further fanned by his oft-repeated sentiments along the lines of “Es ist schön zu wissen, daß ich mir über Geld keine Gedanken mehr machen muß. Geld ist nicht alles für mich.”
Translation would go something like, “It’s nice that I don’t have to worry about money any more. Money is not everything to me.” (P.S. Bild later noted Nowitzki’s earnings to be some $18.08 million for 2008-09 alone.)
This week, the self-described “2 Basketballfans” have captured some German-language blogosphere attention with their piece slightly unkindly entitled “Der verlorene Sohn” (“The Prodigal Son”). The ‘fans outline some potential locations in Bundesliga basketball for Nowitzki, should the option become available.
Of course, the familiar three names keep popping up (see above link for heinnews and Bild’s take on the same trio), but such wanton speculation is always worth a review.
Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand your potential winners of the Dirk Nowitzki Sweepstakes would appear to be:
• Alba Berlin. If size matters to Dirk, Berlin makes a nice option. The O2 is the largest arena in Germany at a potential 17,000 seats, making a heckuva stage for Nowitzki’s German tour. Plus, old buddy and Team Germany teammate Mithat Demirel is now managing the club.
The Maverick noted in a late 2010 interview with Der Spiegel that interest exists in Berlin already and that he could well imagine himself playing in the capitol at age 37 or 38 … so, goes the argument, why not sooner?
• If, in the mode of the 21st century, Nowitzki wants to help build a brand, he should check out Bayern München. National coach Dirk Bauermann has been sweating blood in attempting to resurrect the basketball franchise and get them into the Bundesliga for 2011-12 – with fantastic results.
The 2 ‘fans see the Bayern basketball plan as emulating the programs of FC Barcelona and Real Madrid in piggybacking off the strong soccer brand name for profit and bigger budgets (so how about it, then, Manchester United?); Nowitzki, they say absolutely correctly to the point of severe understatedness, would be the missing piece in the puzzle.
• Finally, there is Brose Baskets Bamberg. Aside from this team’s perpetual threat to compete in the highest European leagues, the distance from Bamberg to Nowitzki’s hometown of Würzburg is just 98 kilometers (61 miles). The ‘fans also argue that Bamberg employs a compelling staff led by Chris Fleming and would have the euros to spare Nowitzki’s sure-to-be-big contract.
However much Dirk misses home, Bamberg GM Wolfgang Heyder is already prepared to woo the all-time great; said he in German-language daily BZ in December 2010: “It would be a dream. Dirk and Bamberg – that is an ideal constellation.”