Dirk Nowitzki planned to attend the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup Draw in the Philippines to represent both Germany and the basketball federation for the grand event.
It turned out to be one of the most memorable moments and decision in his life as he went on to experience the warm love and reception by the hoops-crazed Filipinos.
“It’s been amazing. The last few days have been super warm welcomed. It’s been busy, but super good to see so many NBA fans that have knowledge of the game here,” said Nowitzki in the World Cup Draw. “It’s incredible so thank you guys for all the support.”
Nowitzki, 44, is one of the best players in basketball history and was the focal reason on the consistent success of the Dallas Mavericks in the modern era that resulted in an NBA championship in 2011.
A former 19-year NBA veteran, he is known for spearheading the revolution of the game, as he became an important figure for the big men to space out the floor and develop their shooting. He was also a mainstay in Germany’s national basketball, helping the program to clinch a bronze finish in 2002 World Championships and a silver medal in the 2005 EuroBasket.
As he is now retired from professional basketball, Nowitzki is enjoying every second of his post-career, which includes being an ambassador for FIBA. His arrival to the Philippines is nothing but special as he appreciates the well regard of the Filipinos on the contributions he left to the game as the former cornerstone of the Mavericks franchise.
“I knew the Philippines loved to play basketball but I didn’t know they were this crazy,” he said. “Everybody loves hoops, loves the Mavericks and the NBA.”
As he landed his foot on the historic Smart Araneta Coliseum for the World Cup Draw last Friday, Nowitzki quickly noticed the clamor of Pinoy fans on him. The German great went on to share a golden moment with them that the locals won’t ever forget.
“This has been an amazing trip. It’s been humbling to see that people follow my career from that far away without ever getting to see a game. It is really special,” Nowitzki added.
As he will part ways for now to pursue some other personal endeavors, Nowitzki will always look forward to be back in the Philippines and accept another wave of Filipino hospitality for the World Cup.