DALLAS – Dirk Nowitzki considered the Mavericks’ trip to play in his native Germany “a dream come true.”
“Now that I’ve seen my schedule, I wonder what am I wishing for?” Nowitzki joked Wednesday afternoon, just before the Mavs hopped on the team jet for a 14-hour flight to Berlin via Newfoundland. “No, it’s going to be busy, but also fun.”
This is a business trip for the remodeled Mavs, who see the week overseas and games against Alba Berlin and FC Barcelona Regal as an opportunity to bond and get better. It’s also a tribute trip for the most accomplished European player in NBA history, although Nowitzki doesn’t look at it that way.
The three days in Berlin will make Nowitzki’s stint as the unofficial host of All-Star Weekend in Dallas seem like a breeze. His every step has essentially been planned, from the moment he arrives at the team hotel and holds a press conference with the German media.
Nowitzki will also meet with executives from a German media conglomerate, make an appearance at a Nike store, refurbish a park with his teammates at an NBA Cares event and receive an award at a black-tie dinner. Oh, and the Mavs practice twice, have a shootaround and play Saturday night before leaving for Barcelona.
“The only thing not scheduled for him is sleep,” quipped Mavs PR man Scott Tomlin, whose primary responsibility in Berlin will be whisking Nowitzki from appearance to appearance.
There won’t be much time for Nowitzki, whose hometown of Wurzburg is about five hours from Berlin, to socialize. However, he needs about 100 tickets for friends and family to attend Saturday’s night game, which sold out in less than an hour.
“That’s not bad for having never played in Germany,” Nowitzki said. “I told the NBA, for all the crap I’ve been doing for them for 14 years, they better hook me up with a bunch of tickets.”
Those aren’t the only tickets Nowitzki wants during the Mavs’ European journey. The part of the trip he might be looking forward to the most will occur after the Mavs’ arrival in Barcelona on Sunday, when he plans to attend “El Clasico,” the twice-annual match between soccer superpowers FC Barcelona and Real Madrid.
“It’ll be great,” Nowitzki said.
It’ll be his first chance to relax after the Mavs’ plane lands in Europe.