According to a FIBA press release, former Maverick and German great Dirk Nowitzki is the new Chair of the FIBA Players’ Commission. This appointment also makes Dirk a member of the 25 person FIBA Central board.
Dirk is just the second person appointed to this position. The Players’ Commission was formed in 2014 in an effort to include the people who actually play or have played the games. Nowitzki follows Vlade Divac, who served a five year term from 2014 to 2019.
According to FIBA Secretary General Andreas Zagklis:
“Dirk is one of the greatest players to have ever played basketball, and is highly respected worldwide. He has had an exceptional career both with the NBA and with his national team and will bring with him a huge amount of experience and knowledge. He is the perfect person for this position and we look forward to working closely with him over the next term of office.”
Dirk put out the following statement on his appointment:
I feel honored to have been given this opportunity and I am looking forward to representing players within FIBA and bringing their voices to the table where decisions are made. I am excited to take on this new role and work alongside both active and retired players around the world to ensure players interests are heard to continue the development of our beloved sport.
Nowitzki’s involvement with FIBA gives us the first bit of clarity on his post-playing career since he announced his retirement in April. While he’s sure to have some role with the Dallas Mavericks at some point, it appears that his attention will also pivot to broader endeavors.
FIBA is recognized as the sole governing body for international basketball, but it faces a number of challenges heading into the next decade, at least as far as international basketball events are concerned.
For example, from 1970 to 2014, the FIBA World Cup was held every four years, with the Olympics occurring two years after each World Cup. This always allowed a small break every year in international play (for the best countries, at least). However, FIBA elected to move the World Cup from 2018 to 2019. With the Summer Olympics coming in 2020, this results in a large buy in from all participants, since they must give up two summers in a row.
Summers are usually the only real break professional players get in their calendar, whether they play in the NBA or in another professional league. To maintain interest from the best players and countries, FIBA may need to bank on something other than national pride if it wants successful international basketball.
As a former NBA player and a stalwart on the German basketball team, Dirk Nowitzki brings an important and recent perspective to the table. This is especially important as the concept of player empowerment continues to influence modern professional players. Like many institutions, FIBA is more than set in its ways, but the creation of the Players’ Commission and the appointment of a legend like Dirk Nowitzki shows that it is at least open to other perspectives.
If Dirk can do for FIBA basketball just a fraction of what he did for basketball in Dallas, then the FIBA Players’ Commission will be in great hands for the next four years.