Dirk Nowitzki, widely regarded as one of the greatest foreign-born NBA players of all time, had his international No. 14 jersey retired Thursday by the German Basketball Federation ahead of FIBA’s Opening Day EuroBasket 2022 in Cologne. The immense power forward got his first taste of success at international level when he won a bronze medal with Germany at the 2002 World Cup and a silver medal at the 2005 European Championship, winning the Most Valuable Player trophies from both events.
“It’s a huge honour. I’ve always loved playing for the national team and I’ve always given my all,” Nowitzki, 44, said at the ceremony ahead of Germany’s opener against Germany. France, according to a report published on the FIBA EuroBasket website https://www.fiba.basketball/eurobasket/2022/news/germany-give-nowitzki-ultimate-honor-retire-no-14. “Almost the whole team from 2002 is here. It’s important and I thank them for always accepting me as I am. I respect them and all my former teammates. Without them, nothing would have been possible. “
Nowitzki joined the NBA in 1998 from local German club Wurzburg in his hometown before being selected as a first-round pick by the Milwaukee Bucks. He was immediately traded to the Dallas Mavericks and spent a record 21 seasons there, leading them to their only championship in 2011 before retiring in 2019 with 14 NBA All-Star appearances under his belt.
Nowitzki, whose No. 41 Dallas jersey was retired in January, also thanked Mavericks owner Mark Cuban for traveling to Germany to attend the ceremony. “Thank you for coming all this way. It means a lot,” Nowitzki said. “You always supported me by playing every summer. You knew it was important for me to represent my country and I really appreciate that.”
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