Dirk Nowitzki surprised by Filipino fans: ‘I didn’t know it was this crazy’
MANILA, Philippines—Dirk Nowitzki was thrilled to see a lot of Filipino Dallas Mavericks fans when he visited Manila for the Fiba World Cup 2023 Draw over the weekend at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The German national basketball team legend knew that the Philippines is a basketball-crazy nation but he was surprised to learn that his former NBA team has a big fan base in this country during his short stay.
“I knew the Philippines loved their basketball but I didn’t know it was this crazy, I mean everybody loves hoops, loves Mavericks, loves the NBA. It means a lot it’s been an amazing trip,” said Nowitzki during the draw night at the Big Dome. “I met so many fans and supporters. It’s been humbling to see. It’s my first time ever here. I met people that followed my career from far away. This is a very special and it’s been a fun trip.”
The 44-year-old forward spent his entire NBA stint with the Mavericks from 1998 to 2019, building a storied career that has made him one of the league’s 75 greatest players.
Nowitzki, who’s No. 41 jersey was retired by the Mavericks, was an NBA champion in 2011, 14-time All-Star and four-time All-NBA first team member.
Nowitzki, Fiba Central Board member and Chairman of the Players’ Commission, also had a chance to see the Taal Volcano, which amazed him, during a meeting.
“I had fun and it’s been an amazing stay. Of course, we’re coming back for the actual world cup in a few months,” said Nowitzki.
Germany was drawn in Group E with host Japan, Finland, and Australia, playing at Okinawa Arena in the group stage.
Nowitzki, whose national team jersey No. 14 was also retired after playing internationally from 1997 to 2015, is optimistic about his Germany’s chances this World Cup. Germany is expected to be led by NBA veterans Dennis Schroeder, Daniel Theis, and Maxi Kleber.
“We just won bronze in EuroBasket in September. We have a lot of NBA players led by Schroeder, Kleber, and Theis,” said the 2002 World Cup MVP. “Hopefully, we’ll have a great World Cup. It’s always hard but we’re gonna have, hopefully, a good team. Anything is possible.”
Nowitzki is also for Germany’s hosting of the Fiba Women’s Basketball World Cup 2026 — its second time since 1998 — to be held at Arena Berlin and Max-Schmeling Halle.
“We’re extremely happy. Germany showed last year in the EuroBasket that we can be a great host. It was a great turnout there last September. I was there for the whole three weeks it was so much fun, so many fans coming out to support,” he said. “Hopefully, we can use this momentum and obviously push women’s sport, women’s basketball, such great work. Hopefully, we can have a great world cup in a few years in Berlin. Looking forward to hosting, lots of great basketball, lots of great countries, lots of fans coming in.”