FanPost

Dirk: "They never had shoes my size!"

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(Picture via www.spiegel.de)

Giant, millionaire, a celebrated basketball star - in the U.S. they call him "the German Wunderkind."  The child reporters Sven, 13, and La Tisha, 12, have met Dirk Nowitzki, 32, at a training gym in Würzburg and interviewed him for "Dein Spiegel" . Much Dirk, little Mavs.

Educated guess says interview was taken during the summer.

Translated Interview by Mavs Moneyball (c) below, unless you want to check your german skills, in that case, hier drücken.

Dein SPIEGEL: Dirk, have you ever been afraid as a child to not grow tall enough for basketball?

Nowitzki: No. I was already a few heads taller than my classmates and almost as big as my teachers in the third grade. I wasn't very fond of that. Also, they never had clothes in my size and definitely no shoes.  When I was little, I even got examined by a specialist. He looked at my wrists [carpus] and predicted:  'That boy will grow 2.07 meters [6'8"] easily.'

Dein SPIEGEL: And: Was he right?

Nowitzki: Almost. It became 2.14 meters. [7'0"]

Dein SPIEGEL: In basketball that's an advantage. How do i become so big and strong?

Nowitzki: Do you really want to be as tall as me? I know only one piece of advice : Hang youself to the wall bars for a few minutes every day. And in order to become strong, you have to eat a lot of bananas and drink gallons of milk.

Dein SPIEGEL: If this is so, then you'd have to do it the same way. We have heard you can not stay away from the Nussecken.

Nowitzki: Quarktaschen! Also, i don't allow them [for] myself every day. [Don't believe everything] what the newspapers are writing...tsts......

Dein SPIEGEL: Is there a trick to become as good as you are? But don't just say: 'train a lot'.

Nowitzki: Just do it with fun. This is the most important thing. Next comes the desire will to torment yourself and then, of course, you need a little bit of talent.

Dein SPIEGEL: What would you've become, if not a professional basketballer?

Nowitzki: A life without basketball - a terrible thought.  Painter probably. My parents had their own business, I had to go and help during the holidays: Pull off Hangings and painting -  this is hard work!

Dein SPIEGEL: How did you manage to cope with training and school?

Nowitzki:  As far as school concerns, I'm - God knows - no role model. There was a time when I had handball-, basketball- and tennistraining on the same day. The fact that I completed school, I probably owe to the gentle pressure of my parents.  I finished my school (Abitur) with had a [Grade average of] 3.3, not so exhilarating.  [Ed. Note: 1.0 best, 6.0 worst. Average of at least 4.0 required to pass]

Dein SPIEGEL: Do you regret that you haven't learned more?

Nowitzki: If I could turn back time, I would speak one more foreign language  today, would have started much earlier to play an instrument, and learned a lot more at the school. But as far as sports are concerned, I've done a lot right.

Dein SPIEGEL: You were 19 years old when you left your home club DJK Würzburg for the U.S. To the best basketball league in the world - the NBA. Wasn't that a bit scary for you?

Nowitzki: The beginning was very hard for me. I had always lived with my parents until then: My mother cooked for me every day, I had to not worry about the bills and the budget.  Suddenly I was on my own. It took me some time to get used to the new environment.

Dein SPIEGEL: The Americans are big basketball fans - and you are one of their superstars. Do you dare to go out on the streets without bodyguards?

Nowitzki: Do I look as if I would need a bodyguard? I'm big enough to fight me all alone. (chuckles)

Dein SPIEGEL: You once scolded: "My team is not smart enough to win the championship." Does a basketball player need to be smart?

Nowitzki: I did not say that. Never!

Dein SPIEGEL: Really not?

Nowitzki: No, I did [at that time] only say that we should play smarter and improve our understanding of the game.

Dein SPIEGEL: You are one of Germany's richest athletes. What to do with so much money?

Nowitzki: Money was never the reason for me to play basketball. But it's nice to know that I no longer have to work after my career and my family needs are secured.

Dein SPIEGEL: What do you do if you don't just play basketball?

Nowitzki: I use my free time, among other things, to engage in my Foundation for disadvantaged children.  I also like reading, playing guitar, saxophone or even table tennis. [Ed. Note: Carlisle is gonna like this]

Dein SPIEGEL: What was the best moment in your career?

Nowitzki: The Olympic Games in Beijing in 2008. With the flag in hand, I led my nation in the Olympic Stadium. That was a crazy feeling and an unforgettable moment.

Dein SPIEGEL: Only a handful of German basketball players were good enough to make it into the NBA. If you play with the German national team, you think then, man, are you [guys] bad?

Nowitzki: No. I celebrated great success with the German national team. European basketball is not worse, just different than in America.

Dein SPIEGEL: Can you imagine to play in Germany again after your NBA career?

Nowitzki: I still have a four year contract - I will fullfill it. What happens after that, I don't know yet . But, one shall never say never.

Dein SPIEGEL: Are there countries where you are not recognized?

Nowitzki: In Malaysia. There I spent just two weeks on vacation. It was great.  The Malaysians play cricket and badminton. They don't care about basketball at all.

Dein SPIEGEL:  That has to be totally relaxing for an NBA star.

Nowitzki: They all stared at me because I'm so big -  but, after all, nobody recognized me.

This text is a review of "Dein SPIEGEL - learn more easily," the news magazine for curious kids. 
"Dein Spiegel" reported on politics and culture, on subjects from nature and technology,
 and exciting sports around the world - always entertaining for young readers told and explained.
The table of contents there are here , you can get the magazine in the SPIEGEL Shop - and everywhere in the magazine trade.

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"Hey, Dunking is really easy that way" (Pic via www.spiegel.de)

Original published at spiegel.de 12/01/11

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