Sunday morning, several friends joined Dallas Mavericks legend Dirk Nowitzki on the campus of Southern Methodist University for the fourth annual Dirk Nowitzki Pro Celebrity Tennis Classic. The event is one of many that Nowitzki hosts through his charity organization, the Dirk Nowitzki Foundation.
“It’s that time of the year again to play some bad tennis,” Nowitzki joked before the event. “Thanks to all you guys’ support. We had our fundraiser last night. It went really well. Raised a lot money thanks to our sponsors and our supporters. We were able to do lots of great stuff last year with the funds we did for local North Texas projects and we’re going to do the same thing again with the stuff we raised last night. We’re excited.”
Founded in 2001, the Dirk Nowitzki Foundation’s mission is to help children who are affected by illness, poverty, abuse, and neglect. The programs the organization supports focus on the children’s wellbeing, health, and education.
Joining Nowitzki this year were current Mavericks J.J. Barea, Luka Doncic, and Dwight Powell. Former Mavs Devin Harris and Steve Nash also participated. Tennis legends Tommy Hass, John Isner, Mark Knowles, Mitchell Krueger, and Kirk Spahn filled out the pro ranks. Actor Boris Kodjoe was also on hand for the event.
Some of those in attendance have played in the tournament before. This year, though, Nowitzki said that Doncic was the wild card, participating for the first time.
“Luka is sort of the unknown factor here. He might show up and play like Tommy Haas in the ‘90s or he might show up and play like Harrison Barnes a few years ago, which Harrison’s my guy,” Nowitzki said. “We don’t know what that’s going to be like, but everybody else is pretty solid.”
Nowitzki then went on to single out the poor play of two of his former teammates.
“I’d say Dwight and Devin are probably the weak link,” he said, “and they need to be attacked.”
Doncic wasn’t initially going to be part of the tournament, but, true to form, his presence on social media led to his involvement.
“I put a comment on Dirk’s Instagram page, ‘So, why wasn’t I invited,’” Doncic said. “But I don’t know how good am I. I’m not good for sure. I’m just here to be here with Dirk and help him out.”
Steve Nash’s prowess on the basketball court as well as the soccer field is well documented. However, what many people don’t know is that he’s also getting into tennis. He’s still learning the game but he hopes that he can build on what he already knows.
“I’m pretty damn interested [in tennis], but I’m not very good though, yet,” Nash said. “This will be a great experience for me and I can come back and win this thing in a couple of years.”
The spirits were high like the temperature on Sunday. That much was apparent as the players exchanged jokes and light barbs throughout the morning. At one point, Powell said that the silhouette of Dirk on the court in the American Airlines Center would move as fast as Nowitzki did last season. Nowitzki retorted that Powell would be cut in two seasons.
After Nowitzki singled out Harris as possibly the worst player there, Harris got in the last word.
“That’s kind of the history of our relationship,” Harris said. “He looks at me for everything he does wrong. He traded me twice. For whatever reason I keep coming back. I don’t know why. He can say anything to you as long as he says, ‘That’s my guy,’ it goes well.”