(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.
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.
"Hey, Dunking is really easy that way" (Pic via www.spiegel.de)
Original published at spiegel.de 12/01/11