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Dirk Nowitzki not comfortable in worldwide spotlight

Jul 6, 2011, 12:07 PM EDT

Dirk Nowitzki Wurzburg Germany AP

This is Dirk Nowtizki’s moment in the sun.

He had none other than the living legend that is Muhammed Ali send him signed boxing gloves that say, “you are the greatest.” He has had parades where he was the star in Dallas and his hometown of Wurzburg, Germany. After years of being overlooked as one of the best players on the planet, he is getting his due.

And he’s not comfortable with it.

Nowitzki was very honest about that in an interview with German publication Spiegel.

SPIEGEL: You are now a German-American idol.

Nowitzki: To be honest, I slowly have the feeling that I’m not cut out for such moments.

SPIEGEL: What do you mean?

Nowitzki: Well, at the very least I don’t behave terribly competently. I feel ashamed when the entire focus is on me. I think people can see that. In public appearances, I am stiff as a board….

When the whistle blew to end the sixth and decisive game, blood rushed to my head. Without even thinking about what I was doing, I ran toward the locker room…. I only know that many of our PR people ran after me. They yelled: “Stay here. You can’t do that. The trophy is going to be presented.” I said: “I don’t want it.” I got into the shower, pressed my face into a towel and began to cry. Then I heard them yelling again. “Dirk!” I said: “They should give it to someone else.” Not exactly worthy of a champion, is it?

Actually, I think it’s a lot like a champion who does not feel entitled to the ring but had to work so very hard to get it. The kind of champion we need more of.

  1. jjared1101 - Jul 6, 2011 at 12:49 PM

    Very interesting interview in which he touches on politics, race, and the amount of sponsoring gigs he’s been getting. He talks about turning them down because he doesn’t see the need to clutter his life with those types of things when he has all the money he needs. Sounds like a guy who is more concerned with quality of life, rather than partying and making all the money he can. Even talks about taking up the drums to help his basketball skills.

    • minnesotablizzard - Jul 6, 2011 at 4:52 PM

      It’s because he is a German.

      • edweird0 - Jul 6, 2011 at 7:24 PM

        lol? What does that have to do with anything?

  2. redbear18 - Jul 6, 2011 at 1:24 PM

    Dirk is a class act and very explosive and entertaining on the court. I’m glad he is finally getting his due, and he is being humble about it. Like the author said, this is the type of champion we need more of.

  3. bittersonicsfan - Jul 6, 2011 at 1:35 PM

    There is nothing better than straight up honesty. Nowitzki and Bosh are two of the most honest people in basketball and it’s refreshing to not hear the drone routine most players spew.

  4. chargerdillon - Jul 6, 2011 at 1:53 PM

    Dirk is all class, totally happy for him getting a ring. Prettiest damn mid-range shot in the game today

  5. goforthanddie - Jul 6, 2011 at 2:12 PM

    Class act.

  6. polishkingski - Jul 6, 2011 at 3:35 PM

    sorry dirk, you are just a poor mans bill laimbeer.

  7. mella21 - Jul 6, 2011 at 4:16 PM

    wow, what a great interview. I’m assuming this was originally done in German, and I think people should always keep in mind with these kind of interviews that the translations are not going to be exact-there isn’t a perfect equivalent from 1 language to another for every word or phrase.

    Still, I loved what he said about the NBA needing all different characters-because it’s so true. We need Lebron and Wade just like we need Durant and Dirk to make the league interesting to the casual fan. As for not feeling comfortable in the spotlight-someone once told me that the reason so many rich & famous people go off the rails is because human beings just aren’t equipped to handle God-like worship. It’s unnatural, because only one person is supposed to be the receptacle of that kind of praise. So when you start to soak it up, a warped sense of self is the only outcome.

  8. southbeachtalent - Jul 6, 2011 at 4:34 PM

    Definately a worthy champion, I was very happy for Dirk he has put in tons of work. It must have been just overwhelming… Enjoy it Dirk you deserve all of it.

  9. philiplewis1 - Jul 6, 2011 at 4:57 PM

    It almost (I said “almost”) restores your faith in NBA players to see one behave the way Dirk does and for the most part the way the whole Maverick team does. What an improvement there would be in fan support if players would take some cues from Dirk and change their behavior and entitlement attitude. Many people don’t remember that the Mavericks took a lot of flak for drafting Dirk ahead of Paul Pierce. In the early years, Dirk struggled with his game and had the added pressure of the Pierce comparison. Now that’s all history and there is no question the Mavericks did the right thing. However, this Jordan Hamilton for Rudy Fernandez thing????????????

    • jjared1101 - Jul 6, 2011 at 5:16 PM

      I somewhat agree. As a Mavs fan, i was pretty happy to see Dallas pick up a tall SF/PF who could score, has real nice potential. I feel like we’ve been guard happy/euro happy in the draft over the years, and a US big was a nice change. Then we trade him for…… a euro.

      But, Jason Kidd is 38. Dirk says in this interview that he wants to play for 3 or 4 more years. Their window is small and next year they have to push for the championship with guys who know what they are doing. On top of that, Dallas’ biggest strength was probably chemistry. This Hamilton kid supposedly has issues, so i understand why they went this way.

      So, in summation, i see both sides of this.

  10. 1historian - Jul 7, 2011 at 12:11 PM

    I read somewhere that the reason he headed for the locker room just before the game ended was that he is “too emotional not to cry, too private to show it”.

    I like that.

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