Dirk Nowitzki Q&A on Olympics

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Posted: July 29, 2008

The feelings all came rushing in and Dirk Nowitzki couldn’t help it. All the long hours in the gym, all the breathtaking highs, all the heart-wrenching defeats, all the uncertainty and everything else along the way hit like an avalanche.

The former MVP broke down after a victory that didn’t come with a trophy and won’t be followed with a ring ceremony. The game was merely for third place, but the its meaning was second to none.

“It was a very emotional moment for me after we won the deciding game against Puerto Rico,” Nowitzki explained. “I never thought I would cry because of basketball, but I could not stop the tears. I had to be alone for a little bit right after the game and could not even do the post-game interview.

“All the hard work I had put into realizing my dream finally became worth it. We have great team spirit and have been playing together for a very long time. It was awesome to achieve our goal together.”

The win clinched a spot for Germany in the Olympics. After the coming up short in 2000 and again four years later, Nowitzki led his country to the Beijing Games in possibly his final foray into international basketball.

The 12-team tournament begins Aug. 10. Germany is part of the Group B, considered a strong field that includes defending Olympic champ Spain, USA, Angola, host China and Greece. Germany opens with Angola and concludes pool play against Nowitzki’s teammate Jason Kidd and Team USA on Aug. 18.

The eyes of Mavericks fans will be on that one.

“I’ll be watching it very closely because I have a rooting interest for both guys,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. “I’m viewing the Olympic experience as a very positive thing for our team because I think that experience will help their growth as players.”

Mavs.com caught up with Nowitzki on his native soil via the convenience of electronic mail (and his gracious sister Silke) to relive the tear-jerking scene at the Olympic qualifying tournament and look ahead to Beijing.

Mavs.com: Did you hear from any of the Mavericks teammates after the win? If so, which ones?

Dirk Nowitzki: I have heard from a couple of people from the Mavericks organization, including Rick, Gana [Diop] and J.J. [Barea].

MC: What’s your gameplan going into the Olympics?

DN: I have not spent much time thinking about the upcoming Games. I wanted to enjoy the feeling that we will be part of the Olympic tournament. When we meet this week with the team, we will start focusing on the upcoming opponents.

MC: What does Germany have to do to be successful?

DN: We have to continue to play well together as a team. It helps when we make our outside shots and focus on defense.

MC: What would you consider a successful tournament?

DN: We have a very hard preliminary round with US team and world champion Spain. Our goal is to reach the quarterfinals.

MC: What has Chris Kaman meant to the team?

DN: He has helped us a lot. He is a great rebounder and finisher around the basket. It is great to have him on the team.

MC: Is your family taking Chris in until the team leaves for Beijing?

DN: He spent a couple of days in Würzburg and met my family. We only had a week off before we started training camp again, so there was not much time.

MC: Have you thought about what it will feel like to carry the German flag at the opening ceremonies?

DN: The opening ceremony and entering the stadium will definitely a big emotional moment for me. It would be a great honor to carry the German flag, but it’s up to the officials to decide.