Dirk Nowitzki is the best at a lot of things, but apparently not speaking Swahili.
The Undefeated’s Marc J. Spears traveled to Africa for the NBA’s Africa Game last week and caught up with Dirk while he was in Kenya. Dirk’s wife, Jessica, has family from the country, specifically her mother. So Dirk not only got to go to Africa to spread the goodwill of the NBA, he used it as an opportunity to bring his family closer together.
Dirk Nowitzki stood in front of some Kenyan journalists and tried to impress them in their native language during Basketball Without Borders last week. Let’s just say his Swahili needs some work.
“I saw some media members I’ve talked to before [from Kenya] and I tried some Swahili on them,” Nowitzki said. “It really didn’t go that well. But Kenya is into other sports. Soccer, cricket and rugby are really big. Basketball is not really their go-to sport.”
So why is the longtime Dallas Mavericks star speaking Swahili?
The connection is Nowitzki’s wife, Jessica. She was born Jessica Olsson to a Swedish father and a Kenyan mother. Her mother is from Nanyuki, Kenya, a market town northwest of Mount Kenya that was founded by British settlers and is the home of the Kenya Air Force. The Nowitzkis had wedding ceremonies in Germany and Kenya in 2012 and have three young children now.
Spears goes on to write about how this is a more personal trip for Dirk compared to some of his Team World teammates. It’s a great look at a side of Dirk we don’t see too often.
The piece closes on Dirk once again commenting on restricted free agent Nerlens Noel and once again Dirk kind of sounds a little like the rest of us in wanting to get that part of the off-season moving.
“He’s so young and so athletic. I’d love to keep him,” Nowitzki said. “I’m sure that is what the Mavs are thinking. … We obviously traded for him last year with the hope he will stay with this franchise for a long time.
“I understand the business side of it. He’s a restricted free agent. I’m sure [Mavericks owner] Mark [Cuban] and [general manager] Donnie [Nelson], the leaders of the franchise, are trying to play the right business move. We’ll have to wait to see how it all ends up.”
Dirk is very cordial but it sounds like he wants this all wrapped up just like the rest of us.
Read the rest of the piece for more, as there’s some great stuff about Dirk’s love of his new family and how important it is to him.