And finally he rests...
Dirk Nowitzki will finally get some well-deserved down time now that he's back home in Wurzburg after his valiant attempt to qualify Germany for the 2012 Olympics didn't work out at the European championship in Lithuania.
ESPN.com's Marc Stein caught up with the NBA Finals MVP Sunday night. Dirk's immediate plans do not include -- at least not yet -- looking to play overseas as the NBA lockout lingers, and do include at least a two-year hiatus from international competition during the offseason.
Now 33 and on top of the world, Nowitzki is free to make any decisions he so desires. Last season was a nine-month, training camp-to-championship physical and mental grind-fest. After winning his first title in his 13th NBA season, his life became a whirlwind of parties, celebrations, ceremonies, handshakes and appearances. Then it was on to the European Olympic qualifier.
Nowitzki did not have a terrific tournament. His body simply couldn't muster up the energy needed and he admitted that to Stein:
"I thought that, by the second round, I'll be all right," Nowitzki said. "But for some reason it got worse. I never got into the shape that I needed to be in. Maybe my battery was empty."
Those words might be a bit worrisome to Mavs fans if not for the ongoing NBA lockout that, at this point, appears very likely to delay the start of training camp. The Mavs are scheduled to open camp in just 15 days on Oct. 4. Nowitzki made the right decision for all the right reasons. And he is going to get his rest, and maybe more than he could even want.
After the NBA season, I argued that Dirk deserved to do as he wishes, and if that's playing for his home country and trying to get it to a second consecutive Olympics after the long, grueling title run, so be it. I stand by that, even had it meant a tired Dirk coming to training camp.
His decision to now take a break from international play for at least the next two summers is also a prudent decision. Outside of the European scoring record, which Dirk needs just 28 points to capture, there is little for him to accomplish in international play. He will use these next few offseasons to manage his body as he heads into the latter portion of his career. Dirk has three more seasons left on his contract. He will turn 36 when it expires.
If he chooses to make one last run at the Olympics in 2015, again, so be it.